A large, artist-designed outdoor courtyard was recently dedicated at Neshaminy Manor nursing home, on Route 611 in Warrington.
The half-million-dollar project, funded almost entirely through grants and private donations, was named in honor of Kathy Bates, Neshaminy Manor’s longtime director of recreational therapy, who first conceived of the courtyard and was the driving force behind its creation.
Bates has served as executive director of the Foundation at the Manor, established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to raise funds for the courtyard and Neshaminy Manor’s arts program, which makes use of the courtyard for activities and the display of works created by residents.
The courtyard features a stone patio; benches; decorative plantings; garden boxes planted and tended by residents; a large, mosaic wall; and a covered pavilion where art classes and other activities can be held.
Bucks County Commissioner Charles Martin paid tribute at the dedication to Bates’ determination and fundraising skills, which involved golf outings, art shows, fundraising dinners and parties, the sale of memorial paver bricks and grants.
“The nice thing is that this has cost the taxpayers of Bucks County really not one cent,” Martin said. “That’s a credit to Kathy and to all of the people who helped her to get this done. Kathy’s bottom line was always to make Neshaminy Manor even nicer for the folks who live here. I think she’s accomplished that.”
To date, the foundation has raised more than $600,000, including grants from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the 5 County Art Fund, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Program Stream awards, the office of former state Rep. Bernie O’Neill, the Society for Arts in Healthcare and the Philadelphia Council on the Arts as well as innumerable memorial donations and direct contributions, and support from hundreds of community businesses.
“It takes a village; it was not just me,” said Bates, who is retiring this fall after 23 years with Bucks County, noting that thousands of volunteer hours have been donated to the effort by community members.
“I was probably the bulldog – I get it,” she said, jokingly, “… but my friends, my family, my coworkers, the activities staff, the administration – everybody has been fantastic in allowing us to pursue this.”
Bates reflected about the early evolution of how the courtyard would be designed, drawing on the ideas of college students, artists, residents, administrators and others.
“Everyone wanted to be outside to enjoy the changes of the seasons, watch the flowers grow, and maybe tend to some vegetable plants and enjoy fresh herbs that they could pick and add to their salads,” she said.
The early estimate of what the project might cost was up to $1.3 million.
“I about had a heart attack,” Bates recalled. “But I really wanted this for the residents, and I had to figure out how to do it. So we started raising funds.”
The foundation’s mission statement says that the nonprofit “is dedicated to creating a stronger link between Neshaminy Manor, its residents and the larger community of Bucks County and to enrich the lives of the residents through education and presentation of arts and cultural activities and the creation of other beautification projects such as gardens.”
“I’m happy to say,” Bates said, “that we have been able to hold true to this mission.” ••