Column: Warner dedication at Chilton YMCA

Published 10:53 am Sunday, March 17, 2024

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By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community Columnist

The late Kathleen Provancal Warner will be remembered on March 23 at 9 a.m. at the YMCA of Chilton County’s learning garden and orchard during a dedication service. Warner unexpectedly passed away in November 2023. She was an active member of the YMCA with a passion for education and children. Her husband, Lee, and family requested that memorial donations be made to the YMCA learning garden to honor her memory.

The learning garden at the YMCA, which is facilitated by Chilton County Master Gardener Liz Doonan, is planted and managed by the youth (kindergarten-seventh grade) involved in the afterschool and summer camp programs. Last year, after school gardeners planted watermelons, broccoli, cucumbers, peppers, kale and radishes in the garden. Fruits and vegetables harvested by the children were consumed throughout the afternoons as snacks.

“The outdoor space is used for many aspects of the programs including gardening, cooking, cooperation, friendship, poetry and health,” Lori Patterson, YMCA of Chilton County C.E.O and Director, said. “When we began this project, I didn’t realize the impact it would have on youth development. The Warners are great people, involved, kind and giving. We are grateful that they made the decision to remember Kathy this way because it will benefit tons of children now, and in the future.”

With the use of memorial donations, plans to expand the learning garden will become a reality adding fruit trees, a vineyard, a 50×15 garden bed, blueberry and blackberry bushes, picnic tables, a fence and memorial bench bearing Warner’s name.

“The garden and orchard, I call it a learning lab, because the children learn about everything there,” said Lee Warner. “Children are learning about gardening and friendship, but also things like responsibility. Kathy loved children. She was a high school teacher and later became a Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) educator, teaching students at UAB and initiating a DMS program at Lawson State (Community College), where she also taught for several years. We love the way the garden at the Y blesses the children of our community and is a learning center, and now part of Kathy’s legacy will be there in the orchard.”

Produce from the Kathy Warner Memorial Garden will be sold at a produce table managed by the YMCA youth this coming June and July (two Fridays per month). Produce money received will be used to replenish the garden.

For more information, contact the YMCA of Chilton County at 205-755-2382.