How It Came to Be
Like so many who experience the grief of loss, we had no idea what we were doing. Allie’s parents, Sue and Terry Chartrand, her brother Adam, husband Jeremy Hayes and inlaws Dan and Lynn Hayes had learned and gained so much from knowing Allison that we chose to give back to our community in her honour, by sharing her message of learning and wellness. We wanted others to experience the “Allie effect”: to come alive, explore their passions and celebrate everyone they meet and everywhere they go on life’s journey. In searching for what The Allie Sunshine Project would become, our founders were sitting in a community room at the local credit union learning about Healing Gardens – something that would ground us, teach us, and inspire us to embrace death as a key in the lock of the cycle of life.
This Healing Garden course we enrolled in didn’t seem like much at the time; however it turned out that it was a most timely solution to our grief that emerged as we waded through those early days of picking up the pieces.
We stumbled upon a small ad in the local paper that highlighted a five session course in creating Healing Gardens offered by The Naturalized Habitat Network of Windsor Essex. Intrigued, some of us signed up as a group. We learned about the healing properties of nature and how to tell a healing story using landscape design in ways that incorporate the spiritual and psychological benefits of nature. The Healing Garden course we took became our destiny when Lynn and Dan Hayes offered the one acre piece of land that Lynn had designed as her healing garden to the Allie Sunshine Project.
Our founding members chose this as our central project, the nucleus for our community and our sanctuary away from the busy world. In taking this step we had unwittingly begun to work with nature to find our way out of our grief and forward on the path to wellness.
Our garden has taught us how to accept the passage of time, the seasons of life and the gifts of nature as active participants in the web of interconnected life. We put a great deal of energy into our relationship with nature and are celebrating who we are becoming in the process.