When I came here as the director there was a project already in place to renovate the Grotto and we’re just so bless to be able to have done that. It began in 2012. The VA and the American Veterans Heritage Center started some of the structural restoration and some of the plantings. It now is a healing environment, it’s part of our clinical environment where we’re bringing Veterans here who want to take a time for meditation. We’re here to dedicate the memorial Grotto Fountain in honor of Lewis B. Gunckel one of the founding fathers of the Dayton Medical.
Center. During the Civil War, Lewis Gunckel served in the Ohio Senate and he was arguing and pushing for an Ohio Soldiers Home. When we develop a garden, we get very emotional about it. Particularly Purple Heart Garden because it is so meaningful. It reminds us of our military veterans and our heroes. It’s a tribute to them. The arch we see in the back had been built by the Civil War Veterans. It’s sort of a center piece of the lower We really would like to have more volunteers because we’re working on about 12 acres.
What motivates the volunteers is they see the place and they fall in love with it. Their first question is, how can I help And some people want to volunteer and others say, How can I donate money What I love about volunteering, here at the Grotto, is that it’s such a beautiful place to work but even more than that is the fact that we’re really doing something for the Veterans that are here. There’s a number of reason I like coming here. One is just to see the impact we’ve.
Volunteers restore Civil War era grotto at Dayton, Ohio VA
Made on the site and knowing we’re bringing it back to its former glory and the other is we get comments from people as they come through and say how peaceful it is or helpful it is when they come to visit their friends or family in the hospital or the hospice. Part of our mission on this side of the campus is creating our Victory Ridge which is our hospice unit and we’ve created a pathway that allows folks to come here, even if they’re in a wheelchair, they can come explore the Grotto and they can see it from their bedroom.
Windows in our hospice unit. We must preserve the Grotto to provide peace, tranquility, the curing of the scarring of the Union soul which is what one experiences through armed conflict. And it’s a place for the community and for the family of Veterans to come to truly appreciate what it means to sacrifice for something or someone greater than one’s self. This project would not have been accomplished without the community support that we got from the master gardeners. Our facility is funded for health care for our Veterans and with the support from the master gardeners.