Craig Kittleson, owner of Kittleson Landscape, Inc., Blue Mounds, Wis., recently received the Jefferson Award, a national award for volunteerism and public service. His efforts to help the community of Mount Horeb deal with a pair of tragedies led to the creation of the Happy Garden, a demonstration of young and old coming together to create a place of beauty.
The loss of a parent can be devastating for anyone, let alone a young child. Add to that, in the very same school and at the very same time, a young classmate had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. As the community at the Intermediate Center worked to deal with the grief, two of the children most affected by the events focused on a project to help their community at this time and for the future. The community quickly joined them in building the Happy Place Garden (http://www.happyplacegarden.com/more.html)
Kittleson led the project, working with the children on design, securing the necessary materials, and doing whatever else needed to be done. He, along with Mick Klein Kennedy, owner of Wisconsin Landscapes, talked with and worked alongside the kids throughout the process. Kittleson says he couldn’t have done it without Kennedy and the two have remained an integral part of the garden’s growth and maintenance ever since.
The Jefferson Award, sometimes called, “the Nobel Peace Prize for volunteerism” was pioneered over 30 years ago. The award recognizes dedication and service of volunteers who transform lives and strengthen communities across the United States.