The first Arizona Agri-Women meeting was held at Welcome Home Ranch on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. The Arizona Agri-Women is a state chapter of American Agri-Women—the nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women with over fifty states, commodity and agribusiness affiliate organizations throughout the country.
WHR board member, Nicole Bonilla, was the first speaker in the program. She introduced the Welcome Home Life Skills Academy program and Welcome Home Ranch. She invited each of the students to introduce themselves, including their name and the city they’re from. Then Nicole introduced the Welcome Home Ranch Hope Garden and the significance of it’s name.
“Not only are we growing impressive young men but we are also growing an impressive garden. We have 13 acres in the back of the property that we hope to transform into a hobby farm. Our first step is to grow a trial garden that is 60‘x150’. We have decided to name our garden the Welcome Home Ranch Hope Garden.”
Nicole proceeded to uncover the Hope Garden sign. The sign was designed by Nicole and handcrafted by Brent Begay of Native Fire Designs.
Nicole explained, “I designed the sign so that the word Hope creates a window. As you look through the window of hope on to the other side, not only will you see our beautiful fall garden, but you will see growth, renewal, and restoration. We see the same things in our courageous students.”
Fall Garden Dedication to Valorie King
Nicole continued, “We’d like to dedicate our fall garden to a very special women named Valorie King. Valorie passed away at the age of 55, one year ago, after courageously fighting breast cancer. She was an Arizona resident at one time but raised her family in Lindon, Utah. She is described as happy, cheerful and always concerned with the needs of others. She smiled through her pain as she didn’t want others around her to worry about her.
Valorie loved to garden! And living near the foot of a mountain she frequently had deer invading her crop. She invented many ways of keeping deer out of her garden. While in the hospital, one week before her passing, a family member informed her that once again some deer had entered her garden. With a gentle smile she responded, “I have no more disposition to do harm to those deer”. Not only did Valorie grow a garden but she grew a wonderful family consisting of eight children. Her fifth child is a student in our program.”
The garden sign and dedication were a surprise to the students. As the audience looked across the line of students, it became clear that one particular student had become very emotional. Nicole invited him, Valorie’s son, to come forward as she explained that one piece was missing from the sign. Nicole opened a shiny silver box and the student reached in and held up a pink painted horseshoe bent in the shape of the breast cancer awareness ribbon. With sweet tears rolling down his cheeks he proceeded to tie the ribbon to a small loop inside the letter ‘O’ in the word HOPE on the sign.
Nicole concluded and American Agri-Women president, Karen Yost, proceeded with the program. The WHR Hope Garden sign now proudly stands in front of our developing garden.