Katrina was born in 1955 and raised in New York City by two loving parents. When she was in her 20’s a serious mental illness began to surface, but Katrina did not seek treatment due to denial about her condition. With her parents’ consistent involvement she was able to function and hold a steady job as a medical secretary for 17 years.
Unfortunately Katrina’s mother and father both passed away in 1994 and Katrina was shattered. Unable to cope without their guidance, she turned to alcohol and drugs, and spent most of the next two decades cycling between the street, shelters, jail, and the hospital.
Then, in 2012, Katrina was referred by a local shelter to BCHS’ Navy Green SRO. At first Katrina appeared angry all the time, lashing out at staff and her fellow residents. Not used to living with others, everyday issues—no matter how small—made Katrina agitated and distressed, and she often threatened fist-fights with her peers to solve small disputes. However, BCHS began a partnership with the New York Horticultural Society and things began to change. “The Hort” sent a horticultural therapist once a week to work with BCHS residents—they used containers for planting indoors, then moved outside and began beautiful new plantings in the flower-beds in front of the Navy Green building.
Katrina fell in love with gardening. With the guidance and support of BCHS’ staff, Katrina was able to engage in a nurturing activity for the first time in her life. And she felt a powerful sense of accomplishment and self-worth when she saw something she had planted emerge from the ground and bloom.
Katrina’s whole demeanor transformed. She became compliant with treatment and began to volunteer her time to help with building-wide events; she became warm, funny and engaging with her peers; and best of all, for the first time in her adult life, she felt like she had real friends.
Katrina did so well that she eventually moved out to her own completely independent apartment in the community, but still drops by to assist with the gardens.