Step into the garden behind the administrative offices of Sunrise of Pasco, in Dade City, and you’ll find a place where flowers, plants, butterflies and statuary offer a place of repose and refreshment.
You’ve arrived at Karina’s Garden.
The garden initially was established in 2008 to honor Karina Abdul, a former shelter director for Sunrise of Pasco who died unexpectedly at the age of 29.
Over the years, plants became sparse and weeds took over.
So, when Troop No. 1263, of Wesley Chapel, was looking for a way to complete the requirements for a Girl Scout Silver Award, giving new life to the garden seemed to be an ideal project.
The trio of Girl Scouts — Paige and Kaitlin Traboulay, and Alyssa Duran — heard about Karina’s Garden from Kelly Mothershead, of the Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel, who has worked with the girls on other projects.
“They decided they wanted to come in and transform this space. That’s what they did,” said Vicki Wiggins, director of development for Sunrise.
The Girl Scouts, their parents and other volunteers rolled up their sleeves and got busy. They ripped out weeds, built mulch paths, added pavers, painted fences, installed benches and added plants.
They celebrated the garden’s completion at a gathering in August. Besides the volunteers, friends and Sunrise staff members, local members of Karina’s family were there, too.
“The family was thrilled,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins is impressed by the volunteers’ commitment.
“They’ve been raising money for about a year. They came out. They took pictures and designed it all,” she said.
“Apparently, Karina loved butterflies, so they made sure they incorporated a lot of plants (that attract butterflies),” Wiggins said.
“They did a really great job picking out things. I think the parents worked as hard as the kids.
“They started the weekend after July Fourth,” Wiggins said. “Everything that you can see that’s not a weed, they’ve added.
“They put the pavers in. They put this structure here that has the birdhouse on it. They added the fencing here. They repainted the wall. They added the butterflies (decorations).”
Local artist Lisa Tesla volunteered her talents to give a new look to a dilapidated wooden door in the garden that had been covered in weeds and vines. Her artistry transformed the door into an inviting focal point.
Chris Wirt, of A All Animal Control of Tampa Bay, cleared the garden of two black racer snakes before the trio of scouts got to work.
Sunil Mohammed, of Totally Blu H2O, stepped up to provide garden tools.
Another volunteer, Karen Weiss, made the sign that credits the people who helped on the project.
Paige Traboulay said the girls began planning the project at the end of last year.
“We walked in the garden, and we saw how big it was and how much needed to be done,” said the 12-year-old, who attends John Long Middle School.
“We asked them what Karina liked. They said she liked butterflies, so we tried to focus on that. So, there’s a butterfly on the door, and there are butterflies on the fences.”
There are butterfly plants in the garden, as well.
Kaitlin Traboulay, who attends Land O’ Lakes High School, said the work was mostly done by her family and Alyssa’s family over the course of two weekends.
Thirteen-year-old Alyssa, who attends John Long Middle School, said it was hard work, and it was hot.
When they finished, she said, “I was especially happy because that meant no more bug bites.”
Paige added: “After the project was done, there was these butterflies flying around to each station. We thought it was her (Karina).”
The garden now provides a place to take a break and enjoy nature, Wiggins said.
“Sometimes the office can generate anxiety and a lot of stress for folks. This is a place where they can de-stress. They can just sit and watch the butterflies, and relax.
“It’s beautiful. I’m so happy they did this. They brought it back to life,” Wiggins said.
Garden Restoration and beautification
Girl Scout Troop 1263 Silver Award Project July 2017
Troop members: Kaitlin and Paige Traboulay, and Alyssa Duran
Made possible with the help of:
- Andrew Abdul, donor
- Suni Mohammed of Totally Blue H20
- Chris Wirt of A All Animal Control of Tampa Bay
- Lisa Tesla, artist
- Families and close friends
- T’Weiss as Nice
Published September 6, 2017