Digging in the Dirt at Good Samaritan Center

Debbie Wilkes

Good Samaritan Center, Advent Christian Village’s skilled nursing community, is divided into three neighborhoods, each named for flowers: Dogwood, Magnolia and Camellia. But Good Samaritan Center’s flowers aren’t restricted to neighborhood names; two gardens filled with various plants, including many types of flowers, adorn two of its courtyards. Debbie Wilkes, court clerk on Dogwood, oversees the beautification of these gardens.

Debbie has worked at Advent Christian Village for over 14 years. As court clerk, Debbie acts as a sort of office manager for Dogwood neighborhood. “If someone can’t find something …” she says with a grin. While Debbie doesn’t have a nursing degree and so can’t perform any nursing duties, her years as a stay-at-home mom gave her plenty of “on-the-job” training to be a great court clerk at Good Samaritan Center. She describes herself as “the glue” that holds the neighborhood together.

Debbie has been gardening her whole life, she says. As a child, she gardened with her grandmother, who called gardening “digging in the dirt.” Debbie loves to encourage the whole ecosystem to work in harmony, especially the plants and bees. And she really loves to see a garden filled with butterflies and hummingbirds.

Debbie admits to being good with zinnias, a colorful flower with rows of thin petals similar to traditional daisies, but she enjoys working with all plants. Something she does that many flower gardeners do not is she harvests seeds to replant — a sort of recycling, which goes along with the generation of members she works with at Good Samaritan Center.

The average age group of those who call Good Samaritan Center home these days grew up during World War I. In those days, everything was recycled. Debbie continues that idea with her gardens.

Besides planting seeds, members also assist Debbie by pruning, transplanting and weeding. “Everything,” says Debbie. The gardens even have elevated planters for those members who cannot get on the ground. No matter a member’s physical, emotional or mental capabilities, if they want to help in the gardens, there is something they can do.

Debbie’s work with Good Samaritan Center’s members is just one more way those who call Advent Christian Village home can continue to grow and stay vibrant. And Debbie’s love for not only the gardens, but those who help her maintain them, mirror’s the Village’s ministry to those it serves.

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