Andy Waters was perfect for the job. He had both the lifelong green thumb and the experience needed to undertake just such a project. And so, although he had only been a resident at Buckner Village for a few months, when the resident council decided to form a beautification committee, Andy gladly volunteered.

“The residents here wanted to do something to make our campus more beautiful,” he explains, “and before I moved from Hideaway Lake I had been in charge of the ‘Keep Hideaway Lake Beautiful,’ which is part of the ‘Keep Texas Beautiful’ program.”

Buckner Village is a retirement community located in East Dallas. The campus is a lush 35 acres, and consists of homes, townhomes, assisted living facilities and a nursing home.

“Buckner really provides a continuum of care, “ explains Norma Ussery, director of Environmental Services. “People can move into one of the houses here and, if their health declines, they can move into one of the other facilities that provides more services.” This arrangement is particularly convenient in situations where one spouse has a greater need for medical assistance, as it allows them to continue living very close to one another.

The residents of Buckner Village are extremely proactive in creating a warm, friendly and beautiful place in which to retire. Andy Waters had looked extensively at many other retirement communities before choosing Buckner.

“When you drive around the campus here, it really looks like you’re driving through a neighborhood,” he explains.

There was a patch of empty land between buildings, however, which many of the residents felt needed something. Andy thought instantly of crepe myrtles, and began the process of acquiring some to fill the empty lot.

“First, I went to Norma Ussery and Executive Director Mark Lenhard for approval,” Andy explains. Both were very enthusiastic about the idea, and referred Andy to Dr. Mary Stevens, vice president of Retirement Services for Buckner Baptist Charities. Says Andy, “Specifically, I wanted to be sure we could solicit funds for this project as a non-profit organization.”

Since Buckner Village is a classified as non-profit, all donations could be considered tax-deductible.  Having received a green light from Dr. Stevens, Andy began soliciting funds for the purchase of the trees.

“We had initial anonymous contribution of $500,” he says, “and currently have raised well over $1000, with all the contributions coming from our residents.”

As the person in charge of maintenance and grounds, Norma Ussery worked closely with Andy to implement the purchase and planting of the trees. “Kathy Key, Director of Eldercare Services, told us about ‘Trees for Dallas,’” explains Norma, “and we contacted them about acquiring the crepe myrtles.”

“Trees for Dallas” provides trees exclusively for non-profit organizations at greatly reduced prices. The organization was originally funded by a grant from the Fina Corporation, and has been responsible for distributing approximately 15,000 tress annually to public lands in conjunction with schools, churches and neighborhood associations.

On a Saturday in late March, volunteers from The First Baptist Church’s “Contemporary Adult 9 Class” arrived at Buckner Village to plant 25 10-gallon crepe myrtle trees. The resident council had prepared a wonderful spread of snacks and refreshments.

“They had such a good time with us, they want to know when they can come back and help out with another project,” reports Andy.

The class of volunteers also helped landscape the area around the trees with stones and flowers.  The residents and the groundskeeping crew work together to water and care for the new trees, which should bloom in June.

Andy hopes to purchase more trees for the area. “I planted 30,000 daffodils at Hideaway Lake,” he says, “and since the lot is on a street called ‘Vienna Circle,’ I want to help create our own ‘Vienna Woods.’”