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Volunteer Rachel Remillard has found peace working in Wayside’s vegetable garden while working on her recovery from drug abuse.

“I just like being in this garden,” says Rachel, who speaks passionately of her work in the garden and at Community Meals. “It keeps me calm and happy. It’s been so helpful during rehab. I love working with everyone here. They have been so supportive of me and done so many nice things.”

Rachel found her way to the garden while living in a nearby sobriety house last year. During her time volunteering, she has found that love for gardening runs deep, reminding her of her family’s gardens when she was a child.

Her work has involved choosing plants and seeds, weeding, watering – everything that goes into the hard work of gardening.

In addition to her garden work, she has volunteered at Wayside Community Meals at Hope.Gate.Way., prepping for meals and setting up.

“I love the sense of community and that everyone feels so welcome,” she says. “Working with Wayside has brought me so much happiness. It has given me back so much more than I have contributed.”

Her experience at Community Meals has given her a first-hand view of the challenges that many people face.

“I’ve enjoyed learning guests’ stories,” she says. “But it’s difficult. I’ve seen what food insecurity is. It’s hard for so many people. The cost of living goes up, and people have to make really tough choices.”

As for future plans, Rachel wants to build a career around helping children with nutrition and is in the process of exploring ways to continue to help others. She has particularly enjoyed her time with LearningWorks students, working with them on planting seeds and harvesting.

Rachel has earned a master gardening designation and helped to open a new sober house for women. She notes that there is a shortage of local facilities for women in recovery. 

Her one volunteering disappointment? Gesturing to the garden, she indicates that this was a tough growing year thanks to uncontrollable things like hail.

“But it’s Maine,” she laughs. “There is next year.”