Lakeland associates give ‘gift from heart’ to hospital, Niles

Published 7:54 pm Friday, July 16, 2004

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Sue Morris bought an engraved brick in the recently-completed Associates Healing Garden and Pathway at Lakeland Hospital Niles because, "when I am no longer on this earth, I want a little part of me remaining in a place that I have been a part of for over 30 years."
Employees of Lakeland Hospital Niles and their friends and family gathered on a perfect July afternoon -- complete with a cool, soft breeze, as if tailor-made for the occasion -- Thursday along the west bank of the St. Joseph River.
Many walked with heads facing downward toward the sun-dappled brick pathway. Occasionally, one would point out a name on an engraved brick in the walkway to another -- a walkway of their own creation.
The Lakeland associates christened their healing garden and pathway, which is located along the banks of the St. Joseph River by the hospital's River Entrance, Thursday.
Employees purchased bricks in honor of their friends and loved ones, which helped to fund the construction of the area. It includes a perrennial garden, brick patio area with tables and seating and a spectacular, peaceful view of the riverfront.
The effort was headed by a committee of Lakeland employees, which raised money by selling the engraved bricks to their co-workers during the months of March and April.
That committee selected Morris, a nurse who has worked at Lakeland for 30 years, and fellow employee Willie Moffitt, who for 28 years has transported Lakeland patients within the hospital, to speak on its behalf at the garden's dedication.
Morris is married to Daryl Morris. The couple's son, Chad, snapped photos of his mother with her co-workers in the garden following the ceremony.
The healing garden and pathway, which winds along the west bank of the St. Joseph River, is also a gift from Lakeland associates to the Niles community, she said.
The completion of the Associates Healing Garden and Pathway is the completion of the first of six phases of a five-year plan to create a walkway on the west side of the St. Joseph river, one which will linked Riverfront Park and its walkway on the river's east side to the west bank of the river.
Lakeland and City of Niles officials are working together on the project, an effort that received a significant boost when Niles Cardiologist, Dr. Douglas Huggett, and his wife, April Huggett, donated more than an acre of land along the river for the project.
Moffitt told his co-workers the completion and dedication of the garden and walkway are "a dream come true for each of us."
He said the garden is a seed planted by each Lakeland Associate.