Leaving a Legacy

“Immortality is to live your life doing good things, and leaving your mark behind.”

Brandon Lee

I need some help. I’m at a loss. I have an idea and no knowledge of how to make it a reality.

For those of you who do not know Matt or me that well, we love plants. Matt is partial to trees, I like the pretty plants. The previous owners of our home had cleared out almost all the trees and plants from the property. They were old, didn’t want to do the maintenance. Over the 7 years we have owned this home we have put in thousands of dollars of plants. Because we are “cheap” we also put in countless of hours of sweat equity and an almost trip to the ER with planting everything. (A 135lb girl is no match for a power auger and the shale layer in our backyard. Definitely a 2-person job.) It is not really a joke when Matt says he wants his ashes spread among “his trees” in our backyard when his number is called.

Our backyard when we moved in to our home.
Our backyard now.

I get so much joy out of planning our annual spring planting and our vegetable garden that I am seriously looking in to going back to school to get some sort of degree or certificate in landscape design or horticulture. As the boys are getting older and need me less, I am trying to find something to bring fulfillment to my life outside of caring for my boys.

One day of harvest from our summer garden.

So now comes my idea. I would absolutely love to plan gardens for pALS and/or cALS and install them. Come to their house and give their property some needed outdoor maintenance. Install community gardens in places that could use a little love. What I am going for is taking something Matt loves – trees – and using it to create something I love – gardens – to bring happiness to other people. Matt and I both love the idea of creating something that will be around long after we are gone. You could say the idea was somewhat inspired by our trip to the Big Tree forests in California in October. Those behemoths have been around for centuries.

The boys at Calaveras Big Tree Park in California.

However, I have absolutely no idea if it is something worthwhile. And if it is, how to start. Would I have to start a non-profit? How do I find people and places that would benefit and want this? Is it a stupid idea or played out already?
This mommy and caregiver has been feeling recently like I want to do something more with my life than just take care of other people. I want to do something that takes care of me. That lights a fire under me. That helps me feel worthwhile and is something for me. Anyone with any insight or opinions is welcome to share. Please!

5 thoughts on “Leaving a Legacy

  1. Caitlin I love this idea but have no thoughts on how to push forward such a program. I will say, it’s become our practice when someone passes to have a tree planted to honor the individual. This started when someone gifted us a tree to honor my mother. We were fortunate to be able to plant the flowering pair tree in our yard where it has grown and flourished – just as my mother’s children and grandchildren have . Would love to support whatever you come up with!

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  2. Caitlin,

    I love this idea!! You could totally tie this into Matts Mission for the founding roots, what your looking at is A 501c3 nonprofit consulting agency with you being the consultant providing the services! Here is a article with some info

    https://ssir.org/articles/entry/how_to_start_a_nonprofit_side_hustle_know_the_basics

    Let me know if you want to talk more and I would Certainly love to help with my entrepreneurial experience!

    Best regards,
    Andrew

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  3. Having started a nonprofit I would suggest first considering connecting with a nonprofit that already exists with a similar vision… Then you can do exactly what you want but not have any of the responsibility involved with taxes and accounting and staying on top of everything yourself all of the time. Is it worthwhile? Yes absolutely. Your idea Is beautiful and would be a lasting and special tribute to someone you love both now and later. It would be a gift to those that you help as well. The value of greenery and trees and plants cannot be underestimated. They all bring such peace and joy to all who can sit in their shade. The Pennsylvania horticultural Society may be a good place to start. There are also many family run nurseries in the Bucks County area perhaps someone there has a connection to ALS and would want to be a charity partner with you. In any case sending all the best to you and your beautiful family.

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  4. I love both of your hearts and am here to help you grow your idea 😉 I can help you with website and marketing! If you want to go nonprofit, there seems to be good advice in other comments. I know a great lawyer who could advise you on all sorts of incorporation options too – he helped me set up my LLC (I’m for profit). Let’s talk! XOXO

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  5. Hi Caitlin! We lost our son Jack four years ago to SIDS. I could never find the perfect tree for our yard and was always looking for a little spot to create a little garden for him. Fast forward to next week we are actually moving in my new home has a lovely garden that I could add to. I am part of a support group in bucks county for SIDS. My good friend created Noahs playground, Which is part of veterans Park in Newtown PA. I know it is very sunny there and they would love some shade perhaps you could help out. You should contact my friend and talk I’m sure you could share ideas back-and-forth. ❤️❤️❤️

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