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Adams Morgan nonprofit raising funds for 'healing garden'

Joseph's House, an end-of-life care facility for D.C. residents with AIDS and cancer, is redesigning its front garden

A bench serves as a place for the public to sit, a place for a free library, and a continually circulating dog bowl

Joseph's House, a nonprofit that provides nursing and support services to homeless men and women with AIDS or terminal cancer, is asking D.C. to "grow love" this spring in an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign.

The home, located on a corner lot in Adams Morgan, has a garden out front, but staffers wanted to do more, says Scott Sanders, deputy director of Joseph's House.

So after winning MakeDC's "Designing Dreams" pitch competition last year--which earned Joseph's House thousands of dollars in pro bono design services--the nonprofit decided to create a space that will be an amenity not just for the residents of the house, but the neighborhood.

"Hopefully this will help the residents come off the porch into the garden, and get people off the street" into the garden, Sanders says.

Make no mistake, the garden is primarily for the residents of Joseph's House---not all of whom are dying, though many are. But simply because of the nonprofit's mission, "it's not like we're seen as a scary place, but...what we do...can be intimidating to people," Sanders says. So exuding warmth and making passersby feel welcome is an important goal.

To that end, the outer portion of the garden, which is currently a large retaining wall, will be lowered to create a wheelchair ramp. Accessible to the public will be a small bench with a water fountain for dogs and a little free library for humans.

"We want to encourage interaction with the neighborhood," Sanders says. 

Inside the garden, there will be places for solitude, places for gatherings, and places for remembrance.

Another unique feature: the wheelchair ramp is designed to be the primary entrance to the garden and the house, not a separate entrance.

Joseph's House needs about $170,000 to build the garden; the IndieGoGo campaign will fund $35,000 of that. The nonprofit has an additional $20,000 in commitments from local foundations and is in the process of applying for grants to close the funding gap. If all goes according to plan, Joseph's House will begin construction in July.

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is the managing editor of Elevation D.C. She also covers tech, business and science for publications nationwide. She lives in Brookland.
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