In November, three generations of Yvonne Richards’ family came to help in a tree planting to honor her memory and her career at The Arc Baltimore. She had worked at The Arc for nearly 20 years and she became ill and passed away suddenly in early 2018. Her family noted how often Yvonne had talked about the “ladies” she supported in their home. They even joked how sometimes they would get annoyed that Yvonne’s dedication would keep her away from her own family. Her son Charles said, “She truly loved those ladies. It was more than a job to her. When I learned we could plant a tree in her memory, it seemed only right.”
The Sisters’ Garden on the side of The Arc’s main office was dedicated three years ago to recognize a generous bequest from a woman who had treasured her twin who had disabilities. Several trees have now been planted that have engraved stones at their base with the names of loved ones who have passed. One is for a staff’s parents, another for the parents of a gentleman who has been receiving residential and employment services from The Arc for over 25 years. And now Yvonne’s Magnolia tree will provide a sweet scent for this special space.
Bricks and stones with names also pepper the patio. One honors Charles Cimino, a much-loved man who lived and worked with The Arc’s support for many years. Others include Jerry Katz and Nan Ulle, two of our earliest board members.
And so our Garden is what we hoped it would be. A shady spot for a lunch break or a meeting on a pleasant day – and a place to honor and remember people who were loved. What binds them all in this space is The Arc community and the interest we share or shared in fuller lives for people with disabilities.
Yvonne’s granddaughters playfully fidgeted at the tree planting and added their dirt to the roots. They may not yet understand the impact their grandmother had on people’s lives, but hopefully they will return in future years and know that she did. In the meantime, we know that Yvonne would surely have smiled at the sight of her gathered family.