Students' Project Enriches Lives of Nursing-Home Residents

Published 06.06.2008

Building Construction
Student News

Pennsylvania College of Technology construction students Bradley D. Martin, left, and Jacob D. Carlson stand by the outdoor planters that they built, a dream come true for the Valley View Nursing Center near Montoursville.Two construction students at Pennsylvania College of Technology have collaborated on a "dream" project that will help local nursing-home residents better exercise their green thumbs.

Bradley D. Martin, a construction carpentry major from Granville Summit, and Jacob D. Carlson, a cabinetmaking and millwork student from West Chester, recently built three planter boxes and accompanied by Marc E. Bridgens, assistant dean of construction and design technologies delivered them to the Valley View Nursing Center near Montoursville.

"The young men did a beautiful job, and the planters are wonderful," said Lee Horn, assistant administrator at the nursing center who designed the flower boxes. "The residents can go out every day and water their plants. They're watching things grow and are very excited about it."

Valley View asked for the planters for its Sunrise Terrace unit as part of this year's "Book of Dreams" project, a Williamsport-Lycoming Community Foundation initiative to match donors with worthy personal and organizational philanthropic requests. The secure unit provides care to individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia, and the outdoor boxes offer a therapeutic venue in which residents can plant and maintain flowers and vegetables.

"Mr. Bridgens approached me and a friend and asked if we would like to build planter boxes for a nursing home," Martin said. "My friend wasn't able to, so I asked Jake Carlson, and he said, "˜Sure.'" The pair reviewed and revised the building plans with William F. Geyer, assistant professor of building construction technology, who also supervised the students' work during the 30-hour undertaking.

"The project went pretty smoothly, and I enjoyed it a lot," Martin said. "It was nice to work with my fellow student. It was also nice to give something back to the community and to make something nice for the people of Valley View."

The boxes were designed on multiple tiers with two lower levels to accommodate residents in wheelchairs. Bridgens said the pressure-treated planters each 3 feet long and 18 inches deep provide an accessible outlet for novices who enjoy "playing in the dirt" and tending to their flowers and tomato plants, but who might lack the mobility or opportunity for more strenuous gardening.

"This was fun for (us) to tackle in the last couple of weeks we had left in the semester," Carlson said. "Brad and I were more than willing to do this project when we were asked to build these planter boxes for Valley View. Hopefully, these boxes will be enjoyed for many years to come."

For more information about the School of Construction and Design Technologies, visit online or call (570) 327-4518. For general information about Penn College, visit on the Web, e-mail or call toll-free (800) 367-9222.