eTeam teen Marinna Okawa coaches Barbara Balaban

By Becky Pazkowski

You may have noticed that the Plymouth Harbor campus has been buzzing with youth this spring.  We have had the great fortune to be in receipt of the service of many others: Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and area high school students.  These fine young people have given of their time and talents to move forward several projects on our campus.


Butterfly Garden

Begun through a gift from the estate of Tillie Bessemer (former resident who appreciated the delicate beauty of butterflies and the restorative powers of a garden in which to appreciate them), the Butterfly Garden on the west end of our grounds has been in need of tender loving care.  Nichole Peal, a senior at the Sarasota County Military Academy and Ambassador Scout working on the coveted Gold Award, learned about butterfly gardens on a visit to the Florida Native Plant Nursery in Old Myakka. 

Nichole Peal (2nd from right) with her ‘Butterfly Helpers’

Having heard about our Butterfly Garden from a visit with Ann Brackett and others from Plymouth Harbor, Nichole gained the support of the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida to make this her Gold Award project.  Nichole will restore and establish a plan to sustain the Butterfly Garden now and into the future, sharing the vision Tillie had during her lifetime.  “There are so many elaborate rules for butterfly gardens, like the number of plants and which ones are for the butterflies to eat and which are for laying their eggs,” commented Nichole.  Nichole began work on the project on May 25, when she and her crew were here to clear and trim.  Later this summer new plants will be added.  A dedication is being planned for September.

Peninsula Project

Members of Girl Scout Troop #121 & Boy Scout Troop #895 copy

In June, we were notified by the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program that we had received the $3,000 grant that we had requested for Phase II of the Peninsula Restoration Project, the goal being to remove invasive plantings and replace them with natural and native plants as part of a long-term effort to restore a natural ecosystem to the Peninsula. 

Part of the project includes community service from Boy Scout Troop #895, which meets regularly at First Congregational United Church of Christ, our founding organization.  The project commenced on Tuesday, June 10 with removal and plantings.  June 18 marked the first Boy Scout work day at Plymouth Harbor, when nine Boy Scouts from Troop #895, three Girl Scouts from Troop #121, and five scout leaders and parents spent the day spreading a mound of mulch and watering the newly planted trees and shrubs.  During the lunch break, information from Dr. Lou Newman was shared with the scouts on the birds that frequent the peninsula.

An educational program is being planned for September to share more information on the importance of the restoration project and good stewardship of the Bay area. 

eTEAM Clinics

Jared White and Dr. Joe Klein Work on iPad Together

eTEAM: Teens & Elders Achieve More’ is a pilot project of Plymouth Harbor that got underway June 8.  Students from local high schools come to Plymouth Harbor on  Saturday mornings throughout the summer, 10:00 a.m. to noon, and pair up with residents who request assistance with electronic devices.  

 The most popular requests for assistance typically involve iPads, iPhones, and laptop computers.  Residents sign up for 30-minute slots, and are assigned a member of the eTEAM who works with them. 

eTEAM members receive community service credits toward graduation in their high schools.  Students enrolled so far are Jared White of Suncoast Polytechnical High School, Tamera Miller and Angelo Buenano of Booker High School, and Marinna Okawa of Pine View High School. The first resident signed up for the program was Dr. Joe Klein, who requested help with his iPhone and iPad. 

Thank you to all of our service groups for choosing Plymouth Harbor for your community service.  We remain forever grateful.