For her Gold Award project, Gabrielle transformed a neglected and underutilized area on the grounds of Marian Shrine in Stony Point into a Butterfly Garden. She chose this project because of her love of nature and animals, and the opportunity to transform a neglected space. Reflecting on her accomplishments, she shares, “This project allowed me to maximize my confidence and responsibility, as well as construct a meaningful area in a very peaceful location. I anticipate it bringing pleasure to visitors for years to come.”
As part of her preparation, she researched which butterfly-attracting plants would grow in this region, as well as what sort of environment would benefit the survival of butterflies.
Gabrielle recruited multiple volunteers and delegated tasks including the pruning of the overhead tree canopy, weeding, mulching, and enlarging the area to allow more sunlight to reach the new plantings. She led volunteers in planting, placement, as well as the construction and installation of ‘Butterfly Houses’ for winter hibernation.
Parishioners, retreat attendees, hikers, and a local Pre-K School have been able to benefit from the revitalized site. The Butterfly Garden is a place to learn, enjoy, as well as sit and reflect. “I would have to say that the thing I enjoyed the most was seeing the growth and success of the flowers I planted,” says Gabrielle, “An added bonus was the compliments from visitors while we were working.”
Gabrielle feels she developed as a leader throughout the project, as well as gaining valuable life skills such as organization, delegation of tasks, patience, and perseverance. “I learned an important lesson as well, and that is that not everything you plan works out the way you want it to; you must always have a backup plan and embrace any challenges that come your way.”
Gabrielle also reminds us that The Butterfly Effect Theory posits ‘Everything matters, if you change even the smallest of life’s details, you completely change its’ outcome’.