There’s a special plant that sits on my porch. A meaningful plant. Every day I walk by this artistic arrangement of succulents at my doorstep, admiring the flowering bunch in the middle that pours into draping strings of greenery that hang over the sides. It is a collection of small scraps of many plants, but itself appears to be no scrap. Every day it is a reminder. I am reminded not only of its beauty and continued growth, but also of community.
This “special plant” is indeed special and serves as such a reminder because I got it from my neighbor, Teri Hall, a few months back at one of her now quite popular and successful plant sales. Living next door, I have always known Teri to be a plant person. Most days, I can catch a glimpse of her tending to her many rows and bunches of plants, making trips in and out of the greenhouse through the shared fence. This dedication and enthusiasm for plants turned into charitable sales that allowed Teri to share her abundant reap with others and support worthwhile causes. A few of these plant sales, which began during COVID, have benefitted The Caring Place.
On her sales, Teri noted, “Back in 2020, I had given everything I could to people I knew already, so I had to get creative. I knew I could sell them for cheap and donate the money. And, especially at the time, I knew there was a need for food, clothing—for basic stuff—because so many were out of work.” To respond to this great need in our community and her own need to pare down her overflowing yard, Teri had her first plant sale in the Spring of 2020, not knowing if it would do well. In true pandemic fashion, Teri put the plants out with a can and a sign that read “Plant Sale. Benefits The Caring Place.” It was an honor system; put your money in the can and take your plant. The Setup proved effective, as she made a couple of hundred dollars. People, receptive to the cause, often added more to the can. Happy with the first turnout, Teri said, “Well, okay, that’s good. It’s something I enjoy doing, and people enjoy buying.”
Unsurprisingly, Teri, with her green thumb, accumulated many more plants this year and decided to give the plant sale another go. Proceeds from her first sale of 2022 went to Ukraine for medical supplies. She said, “Being a doctor, I felt the need to contribute something, and that was a big one because I made over $500. Even after, I had more stuff and realized I needed to have another sale.” Teri’s second sale of the year was for The Caring Place again because, as she emphasized, “The Caring Place is the one I want to benefit consistently, and then the second one, in the future, will help something specific at the time, an organization struggling or a cause particularly on my mind—like Ukraine this year.”
Teri is inspired to donate to The Caring Place because, like many in the Georgetown area, it is an organization she is connected to in many ways. Even before being a Georgetown resident, she remembers, “My dad used to always want to go there. I lived in South Austin, so when I’d come up to visit him out towards Weir, he’d always say, ‘Let’s go check out The Caring Place and see what they have!’ So we’d go through all the knick-knacks, and I had to agree, ‘Wow, this is a pretty cool place!’ And I know, of course, it’s even changed and expanded since then.” In addition, Teri’s sister, a teacher in Bartlett ISD, is aware and involved with the food distribution program that brings truckloads of meat, produce, dairy, and more, which Teri considers “a pretty cool and necessary thing.” Knowing The Caring Place and the numerous ways the non-profit works to provide for the basic needs of all neighbors, Teri wants to continue to promote and advance this mission as a good neighbor herself. Thinking about The Caring Place and its role in the Georgetown area, Teri added, “It’s just a class act over there. It’s always been very highly respected, and even people in Austin, like I was, know about it. People should know about it.”
The birth and expansion of Teri’s plant sales wonderfully highlight the importance of connecting to a greater mission and operation by doing what we love. With creativity and effort, we can keep doing what we enjoy, what we’re good at, and that’s precisely how we can uniquely support our community and others. On passions becoming philanthropic, Teri recounts, “I think the plant thing is such a passion for me that it just evolved into the sales. It takes some time in your life to realize you can do something with what you love, even though it doesn’t seem like it would help or make much of a difference.”
Teri calls herself a resuscitator: “That’s what I learned to do. I was an ER doctor, so I resuscitate things. For 20 years, I did people, and now I’m doing something not quite so intense. I resuscitate plants, try to bring them back to life, or divide them from another plant and let them grow nuts.” As she said this, I came to recognize The Caring Place, similarly, as a resuscitator. The Caring Place and its mission of providing for the needs of all in the community enables people to grow and flourish beyond what they thought possible during a crisis.