EFSC Students Beautify Pridmore Center for Women & Children

August 11, 2014 - For their spring semester service project, the students in Eastern Florida State College’s Honors Community Involvement Class on the Melbourne Campus beautified the landscaping of a transitional housing center and uplifted the spirits of the women and children who live there.

Professor Marina Baratian’s nine honor students, along with their recruited friends, family and civic-minded volunteers performed the facelift on the grounds of The Sue M. Pridmore Center in Melbourne.

honors project students

The center is a not-for-profit organization that offers transitional housing for homeless women with and without minor children. It also provides case management and mentoring in career development, financial stability and life skills.

Professor Baratian has taught the Honors Community Involvement class for 10 years. Each semester, she allows her students to decide a social theme to explore. Students choose this theme following class discussions and visits from local experts representing various social organizations.

After selecting a theme, each student volunteers a minimum of 32 hours at a not-for-profit organization. For their final examination, they work together to address a social problem arising from the theme.

“My spring-semester class decided to investigate the various social services that serve the impoverished of Brevard County,” said Baratian. “As part of their final examination service project, they decided to make the Pridmore Center’s playground a more cheerful place for the mothers and their kids.”

Although the preparation for the beautification project took 12 weeks, the physical labor took just one day thanks to the many hands involved.

“The event came together in a magical way,” said Baratian. “The students advertised for help through email flyers and created a workforce of family members, friends, volunteers from the Melbourne Campus Environmental Club and local community members. We all joined together to dig, plant, mulch and sweat to beautify the grounds. One gentleman who volunteered actually owns his own landscaping business; another volunteer is a landscape designer.

“The landscaping encompassed a very, very large area, in front of the residential center as well as the adjacent playground area. We trimmed, pulled weeds, planted flowers and vegetables and created a tire garden from recycled tires. We also paved a sitting area, with a large umbrella for shade, giving moms a cool place to relax while their children enjoy the playground.

“I’ve done a variety of projects over the years and this was one of the biggest. We had to use utility trailers to haul the countless pounds of soil and mulch. My students solicited donated materials from local businesses and we partnered with EFSC Professor Scott Herber who received a grant from Keep Brevard Beautiful, which provided us with the tires and contact people to assist us with the landscaping.”

Stephanie Messina, one of the students, served as liaison between the Pridmore Center and the Salvation Army of Brevard County, which is the umbrella organization overseeing the Pridmore Center. She suggested the Pridmore Center for the class project, having learned about it from earlier volunteer work with the Melbourne Women’s Center for a different class.

“I’m an older student who’s already volunteered many hours to the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen,” said Stephanie Messina. “It was nice seeing the younger students in Professor Baratian’s class develop an awareness of the need for help that’s right in our backyard and give back to our community.”

“It’s so easy to get caught up in our own struggles,” added classmate Denise Fares. “I never knew just how much need there was right in my own community until I took this class.”

The students’ inspiration to do a great job was evident to Dee Dee Haynes, Human Resources/Volunteer Coordinator for the Salvation Army of Melbourne.

“Everybody really pitched in and did a wonderful job,” said Haynes. “Now I see the moms and kids in the garden and sitting area all the time. They never went out there before.”

The project has transformed the students, providing a lesson they will not forget.

“Helping each other creates better tomorrows for everyone. The garden we planted is the perfect example of how we can all grow together as a community,” said student Raven Laravea.

For more information about the Pridmore Center or to explore other local social issues in need of support, visit the EFSC Center for Service-Learning's Community Partner Link Directory.

Professor Baratian extends special thanks to her students and the faculty and staff that made the event happen:
Stephanie Messina
Louise Abbate-Loyd
Nicholas Duy
Denise Fares
Raven Laravea
Jade Donegal-Nelson
Kimberly Santiago
Nicholas Segallis
Savitree Sherman

Scott Herber, EFSC Biology Instructor
Theodore Schropp, EFSC Melbourne Campus Environmental Club President
Eileen Trobaugh, EFSC Liberal Arts Administrative Assistant
Joyce Cox, Salvation Army Social Services Coordinator
Dee Dee Haynes, Salvation Army Volunteer Coordinator

EFSC’s Honors Community Involvement class thanks the following local businesses and individuals for contributing to the Pridmore beautification project:
Home Depot, 5100 N. Wickham Rd, Melbourne: pavers
Sam’s Club: $25 gift card
Walmart Supercenter, 8500 N. Wickham Rd., Melbourne: flowers
Lowes: discount on plants
Coastal Gardens, 2951 Pat McKee Pl., Melbourne: a truckload of flowers, shrubs and a tree
Sarno Recycling Center: mulch
Professional landscaper George Haynes, owner of Spoonbill Lawn Care & Design, Palm Bay: expertise and equipment usage.
Renfros family:various plants
Salvation Army of Brevard County
Maureen Groom, EFSC English Instructor: baby tomato plant