PENDLETON — Pendleton’s downtown is a more visually vibrant place to be, thanks to a recent effort led by South Madison Community Foundation.
More than a dozen volunteers, along with a few Pendleton Street Department employees, spent a recent Wednesday planting flowers along State Street.
They filled 32 large planters and six planter boxes with a mix of flowers.
“It’s part of our place-making and town beautification (work),” said Lisa Floyd, community projects steward for the foundation, which is a charitable organization based in Pendleton.
Floyd said the town provided the planters, which cost about $10,000, and volunteers included employees from 3Rivers Federal Credit Union, students and adults from Anderson Preparatory Academy — a private K-12 charter school — as well as a couple of Pendleton residents.
Lillie Thompson, a 7-plus-year employee with 3Rivers, lives and works in Fort Wayne but signed up to come to Pendleton after seeing the planting project on an internal company list of volunteer opportunities.
“I hadn’t been down to this area, but I hear it’s great,” she said. “It’s really beautiful here.”
She said the company encourages employees to help improve communities by allowing staff to do volunteer work during paid time.
That company mission aligns with her personal one — “just to create a positive environment. It’s important to me.”
That’s something fellow 3Rivers employee Casey Mitchell said is good about the company’s volunteer stance — it’s optional, not required.
“We want you to find what your passion is and support it,” he said.
Troy Novotny, a freshman at APA involved in the school’s Jet Fuel youth program, worked with Pendleton Street Department employees to fill the planters with dirt off the back of a truck.
“I just like helping with the community and stuff,” he said.
He said the planting project suits him in other ways, too.
“I just like going outside. I don’t like staying in the house a lot, staying in one place. I like moving around.”
Classmate Aubrey Smith, who was planting flowers in the large circular pots, said she likes the projects and people she gets involved with through Jet Fuel.
“We try to fix up Anderson and other communities and help people in need,” she said.
“I just like to help out. It’s just a good group to be around and be yourself. It’s just fun.”
Mattie Walsh, an APA social worker who runs Jet Fuel — which draws its 35 members from the school’s 900-plus student body — confirmed the students’ dedication.
Walsh said Smith, the high school captain of Jet Fuel, accrued about 2,200 hours of community service between May 2022 and May 2023. Novotny, co-captain, accrued about 950 hours from November through May.
Floyd said the flowers the volunteers planted downtown — including canna lilies, sweet potato vines and lantanas — as well as the dirt were purchased from Welsh Landscape Co. and Greenhouse in Anderson. The cost, about $2,000, was paid with funds from 3Rivers as well as sponsorship funds from about a half-dozen other businesses.
The community foundation has a similar program involving 32 hanging baskets along Pendleton Avenue, where individual baskets are sponsored by businesses. Floyd said the plan is to eventually transition over to the flower pots on Pendleton Avenue as well because the pots are easier to maintain.
Which leads to Floyd’s next volunteer call-up.
“Now that the flowerpots on State Street have been filled, the South Madison Community Foundation is looking for adopters,” Floyd said in an email to The Times-Post. “Volunteers are needed to water and fertilize the flowers on a weekly basis.
“Watering jugs and fertilizer will be provided, and adopters can choose their own schedule.”
For more details, contact Floyd at 765-778-8444 or lisa@southmadison