ITHACA, N.Y. – Ithaca Children’s Garden is a place for free play. Kids are encouraged to explore their environment and connect hands-on with nature, and it is open to all free of charge on a daily basis. After-school and summer programs, however, cost money. Now, thanks to a generous donation, a scholarship fund will make all of ICG’s programs affordable for kids from refugee families.
Erin Marteal, ICG’s executive director, said in a statement that it is part of ICG’s “fundamental philosophy to never turn anyone away for lack of funds.”
A gift from former Ithacan Katherine Doob is helping to ensure that ICG’s goal of inclusivity is a reality.
Doob, who lived in Ithaca from 1976 to 1999 and considers it her home, has long worked to create inclusive communities. Recently, she has contributed to the International Rescue Committee’s efforts to support refugees from Syria. She previously worked at Cornell University, where she founded the Cornell Public Service Center in 1991.
Doob became personally invested in ICG’s programs after her grandson, Alston Alexander, passed away. She helped set up the Bulb Labyrinth Memorial Garden, which ICG created in partnership with the Ithaca Childbearing Loss Network to remember babies and children the community has lost.
Doob said she hopes the Alston Scholarship Fund will help Ithaca become a more integrated community by providing a bridge connecting diverse families.
“Ithaca is very small and inclusive, but any action to help connect community members is powerful,” she said in a statement.
Doob added that she hopes the scholarship fund will not only benefit refugee families directly but also will help make ICG a more diverse and inclusive space for all families who participate in the garden’s programs.
Marteal said Doob’s donation would have immediate benefits for families in need.
“With everything we know about systemic inequities related to access to green spaces, this kind of gift is particularly important,” she said in a statement.
Marteal said she also hopes Doob’s generosity will inspire others to support ICG. Anyone interested in contributing to the scholarship fund can contact ICG through their website for more information.
Featured image: The Bulb Labyrinth Memorial Garden at Ithaca Children’s Garden. (Photo courtesy of ICG)