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By Joyce Westner

The little park across from the Winchester Public Library was enhanced by the addition of bright yellow begonia plants in what the Winchester Coalition for a Safer Community calls a “Hope Garden.”  The organization, begun in 1998, has the mission “to reduce substance abuse, particularly in the youth community, and to foster healthy life choices through education,” and is housed within the town’s Health Department.  As a major Cummings Grant recipient (shared with 32 other non-profits), the Coalition lists sources of support for Winchester residents.  And according to Dot Butler, the coalition’s program manager, it provides programs to high school students and their parents.  It also runs training for police officers and firefighters, as well as librarians and teachers to understand how to deal with mental health issues among the general population whom they may encounter.    

Butler added that, “The garden will be put to bed in fall with lots of bulbs below and hopefully spread hope and joy in May which is Mental Health Awareness Month.”  More info about how to get help for risky behaviors is available at https://winchestercoalitionsafercommunity.com/support-hotline-numbers/ 

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