ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
There is a new place where hope can spring eternal at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. On September 23, 2020, Col. Brian Moore Robins, Installation Commander joined about two dozen Team Robins members in the dedication of the new H.O.P.E. Garden.
"This is a physical representation of the H.O.P.E. campaign that this installation has taken on," said Moore. "H.O.P.E. is a unifying presence. It is not just a philosophy. It is an acronym with action behind it."
H.O.P.E. stands for Help is available; Opportunity exists; People care; Expect good things.
The program was created in response to the high suicide rate in the U.S. Armed Forces.
"This is a therapeutic garden," said Donna Hunt, the H.O.P.E. Garden project coordinator. "This is a real way to help our Airmen with stress and anxiety."
The site is formerly known as the Camellia Memorial Garden. For nearly 45 years, it honored deceased men and women who were a part the Robins family.
In 2016, the memorial was moved to the Museum of Aviation, to provide easier access for family members to pay tribute to their loved ones.
The name change brings a change in purpose.
The three-acre area now focuses on the living and providing a tranquil place during stressful times.
“This is how we take care of our Airmen and make Robins the place where we combat fear and anxiety,” said Stuart Bapties, Violence Prevention Integrator and Suicide Prevention Program manager for the Robins Integrated Resilience Program Office.
Bapties added, “When people are struggling, we want to make sure they know who to reach out to. They need to know where to turn for resources to help form connections and recharge when times get tough.”
Inside the garden is a large gazebo, several brightly painted tables and benches for use.
Work on the garden started in May 2019. Master gardener Diane Stephens helped with the transformation.
“It’s almost a miracle and incredible how this has come a long way,” Stephens said. “This has been a lot of work. A labor of love for our Airmen and civilians to have a place to come and decompress.”