Grand Traverse Pavilions goes above and beyond to bring their residents community spaces for gardening, getting outdoors and relaxing, but the pandemic has put them at risk. Learn how you can support this project and additional Northern Michigan nonprofits featured in our 2021 GIVE issue.
They are the epicenter of daily life in the residences at the Grand Traverse Pavilions—seven beautiful courtyards at the heart of each pavilion, a place where senior residents can gather, relax, grow and share vegetables and flowers, enjoy a picnic or watch the birds flit in and out of the feeders.

But this year finds the rose bushes unpruned, the hydrangea drooping and overgrown and a mix of scrappy weeds springing up in the raised beds instead of the vibrant crop of Big Boys, Early Girls, zinnias and sunflowers that residents would so proudly harvest and share.

With the pandemic, the priority on resident safety meant staff were focused on immediate care needs, and vendors and volunteers were unable to freely access the internal courtyards, leaving the gardens uncharacteristically untended.

But as the pandemic continues, the courtyards are more important than ever. “The courtyards provide a chance to get some fresh air, to experience some tranquility and beauty and to socialize more safely outside with other residents and family,” explains Deborah Allen, chief development and community engagement officer of the Grand Traverse Pavilions. They’re also a key component of the organization’s philosophy—the Pavilions is one of the few Eden Alternative models of care centers, which focus on nature, quality of life and person-centered care.

“The courtyards and their gardens not only provide sanctuary, but also give residents a chance to have their own garden plot and to enjoy a sense of accomplishment and agency,” Allen adds.
The need is great for the love and resources to bring these sanctuaries back to their former beauty. Outdoor lovers and green thumbs can contribute in meaningful ways to help with pruning and planting. Or to add to the beautification efforts, consider purchasing a park bench, a planting or individual paver bricks as a means of financial support—a gift of $5,000 will sponsor an entire courtyard in memory of a loved one.

To volunteer, call Adam Dennis at 231.932.3018, or visit for beautification opportunities or to make a donation.

This Article Was First Featured in Northern Michigan GIVE 2021

Read more Northern Michigan nonprofit stories and learn how to donate and volunteer in the free edition of MyNorth GIVE 2021. You can also preview and purchase our digital issues Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine or subscribe and get Traverse delivered to your door each month.

Northern Michigan GIVE 2021 by MyNorth

Photo by MyNorth Media

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