Creating a Place of Community

When it comes to serving the community, Mercer Botanic Gardens has help from a group skilled in achieving missions: military veterans. The Mission Continues is a nonprofit that deploys veteran volunteers into the community to solve challenges, such as improving community resources, eliminating food deserts, and helping at-risk youth.

According to Monique Sapp, senior city impact manager for The Mission Continues’ central region, Mercer was a good fit for the nonprofit. “We were inspired by Mercer’s mission to grow the garden into a place that impacts the community through educational programs and service projects.”

The Mission Continues empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact, according to Sapp. “Veterans build new skills and networks that help them successfully reintegrate to life after the military and create positive, transformative community change in the process,” she says.

That transformative change at Mercer involves restoring the 4.5-acre Cypress Creek Ramble, which was destroyed during Hurricane Harvey. “The garden took in historic and unprecedented amounts of floodwater during Harvey, leaving it covered in silt and debris,” says Jim Nutter, interim director at Mercer.

Several hundred volunteers from the local and national chapters of The Mission Continues, as well as volunteers from the community, will come together September 22 from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to revitalize the area and create a more flood-resistant garden. “Because the Cypress Creek Ramble is located close to the banks of Cypress Creek, we expect it will flood again at some point. We’re designing the garden to be more resilient to floodwaters, making restoration easier in the future,” he says.

“We are so grateful for this huge volunteer effort to help restore the Cypress Creek Ramble. From the Shakespeare and Children’s gardens to our new Little Blue Library, there is tremendous momentum to make Mercer a place of true community, enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. We want to thank our veterans and thank The Mission Continues for helping us achieve this mission,” Nutter concludes.