Champion of the Month

Vernon & Tiawanna Bryant Share

Feb 7, 2019  |  Layla Price-Bodkin

Ver­non and Tiawan­na Bryant have invest­ed their lives into Mar­i­on through com­mu­ni­ty gar­den­ing and help­ing neigh­bors while instill­ing life skills and healthy habits in local youth. Tiawan­na is a life-long res­i­dent of Mar­i­on, and her hus­band Ver­non, orig­i­nal­ly from Muncie, has lived in Mar­i­on for 42 years. Both worked for many years at the Thomson/​RCA plant until it closed. Then, they pur­sued a fam­i­ly busi­ness of child care and fos­ter care.

The Bryants are active in the Cen­ter City neigh­bor­hood. For over five years, they have helped main­tain The Fly­ing Toma­to” Com­mu­ni­ty Gar­den, a 16,000 sq. ft. scenic gar­den devel­oped by the Afford­able Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion of Grant Coun­ty in 2011 as part of a blight elim­i­na­tion / beau­ti­fi­ca­tion project. The vast gar­den has fruits, veg­eta­bles, and flow­ers, a per­go­la, irri­ga­tion sys­tem, and also fea­tures pic­nic tables and a bar­be­cue pit. The pro­duce from the gar­den is intend­ed to feed and nour­ish mem­bers of the Cen­ter City Neighborhood.

2019 marks the first year that the Bryants will over­see main­te­nance of the entire gar­den, and they invite any­one in the com­mu­ni­ty to take part. Along with plants that are donat­ed, the Bryants buy plants and per­form gen­er­al main­te­nance duties with the assis­tance of the chil­dren in their care. They teach the chil­dren var­i­ous gar­den­ing skills, intro­duce qui­et and peace­ful time as well as play time, and also inter­twine the work of gar­den­ing with scrip­tures and life lessons.

The Bryants also assist elder­ly and dis­abled neigh­bors through mow­ing and weed­ing. Tiawan­na explained, We can’t do it all, but we do what we can. These are our neigh­bors. If our yard looks good, we want theirs to look good, too. We were blessed to have the tools and abil­i­ty to do these small things for them.”

The cou­ple has also worked with the City of Mar­i­on to ful­fill numer­ous needs in their neigh­bor­hood. They have done so through advo­cat­ing while get­ting their own hands dirty and work­ing togeth­er with neigh­bors and the City to get things done.

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