Two local companies joined forces recenly to honor healthcare workers that are in the front lines of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
iTrees.com - owned by Chris and Marlee Harford - and Spring Grove Nursery - owned by Jamie and Becky Thomas - teamed up to take nominations for healthcare professionals in the community to receive a tree planted in their yard. The program is entitled "Planting Peace, Growing Hope." Spring Grove Nursery provided the trees, which were Autumn Blaze Maples, and iTrees.com donated their time and labor in planting the trees.
It was another in an ongoing community service.
"Usually on Arbor Day, which is the last Friday in April, we would either plant a tree at a school, usually with fourth graders," iTrees.com's Marlee Harford said. "And recently, we have been planting trees in Coal City. This year, on Arbor Day, we had a whole thing ready to go for Coal City, but the pandemic made that impossible.
"So, we came up with the idea to take nominations for healthcare workers. We put out the infromation on how people could nominate someone. Then, we decided to not just give it to one, we did it for all that were nominated."
iTrees and Spring Grove Nursery received eight nominations, but were only able to plant seven trees, as one nominee did not have the yard space for a tree.
The trees were planted last week after the recipients were contacted and could arrange a time for the crews to come and do their work.
"There are so many benefits of trees," Harford said. "We chose the Autumn Blaze Maple because they are fast-growing and we wanted to plant a substantially large tree. Their leaves turn red in the fall, so it will be a nice burst of color for the yard.
"Also, the mental health aspects of having a tree are tremendous. These healthcare professionals are going through a lot at their job, and this is a way that their home life can be a little more calming."
Following is a list of those who received a tree and the letter of nomination:
Shannon Borgstrom, Morris
“Shannon is a nurse at Morris Hospital and her ward was turned into a COVID ward. She leaves four little boys at home, the youngest is two, while she works 12+ hour shifts. Then she comes home exhausted and tries to stay away from her children. She’s been under tremendous stress, yet through it all, she keeps an amazing attitude and always has time for a wave or chat with neighbors.”
Stephanie Hauch, Morris
“First, she loves to work in her yard, planting trees, bushes, and flowers. Second, she is a nurse and during these times could use a special gift that would bring joy. Third, she is a wonderful wife and mother to five children.”
Tina Horkey, Morris
“She is great at her job, but obviously is also putting her life in danger during the COVID crisis when she does her job. She would make a great recipient of a tree because, like a tree, she is strong on the inside and out and is an important part of our community ecosystem health.”
Jen Poyner, Mazon
“Jen is an ICU Nurse at Silver Cross, doing direct care on COVID patients. She works hard and picks up shifts. As a mother of three herself, she also is taking care of everyone else’s family.”
Adrienne Citta, Ottawa
“We live next door to a nurse who is kicking butt working during this pandemic. She is working her regular shift and even signed up to be the registration nurse on midnights in the ER in Ottawa.”
Matt Niewinski, Dwight
Matt is a fireman/paramedic for Palatine Fire Dept, and his nomination says this about him: “When Matt is not on the job, he’s always doing something for all of us. He’s fully aware he signed up for this line of work and does not want recognition for doing what he loves, but he certainly deserves a beautiful tree for always doing for others and expecting nothing in return. Matt has weathered both 9/11 and now COVID-19, and I sure hope you find that he is a deserving recipient of a new tree that I know will be well taken care of. I also hope this tree reminds Matt of what a selfless person he is, and to know that he is appreciated by his family.”
Elizabeth Cacello, South Wilmington
“Elizabeth is a Nurse Practitioner at the Morris Hospital – Coal City/Diamond campus. Elizabeth has been working hard to take care of those who are ill during this difficult time. She is kind, caring, and makes sure that every patient she sees feels they are her only patient of the day. Elizabeth has also had to juggle her workload with being a wife and mother to her family at home. She comes home from work and assists her kids with their schoolwork and takes care of the household. I believe a tree would be the perfect way for their family to remember this most difficult and memorable time and to serve as a sign that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.”
Harford said that the nominations for healthcare workers might become an annual event for the nurseries. However, she asked that people wishing to nominate someone wait until the information for the next event is released before submitting information.
"We enjoy doing things for the community," she said. "We haven't sat down and discussed doing this again, but I believe it is something we would both be interested in.
"iTrees.com and Spring Grove Nursery are so proud to be part of this wonderful supportive community and are so thankful for our healthcare professionals that have been serving our community, not only during these difficult times but all the time."