With a lifelong green thumb, Andy Waters was perfect for the job. And even though he had only been a resident at Buckner Village for a few months, when the resident council decided to form a beautification committee, Waters volunteered.

“The residents here wanted to do something to make our campus more beautiful,” he says, “and before I moved from Hideaway Lake, I had been in charge of the ‘Keep Hideaway Lake Beautiful,’ which is part of the ‘Keep Texas Beautiful’ program.”

Buckner Village is a retirement community located in East Dallas. The 35-acre campus includes homes, townhomes, assisted living facilities and a nursing home.

“Buckner really provides a continuum of care,” says Norma Ussery, director of Environmental Services. “People can move into one of the houses here and, if their health declines, they can move into one of the other facilities that provides more services.”

This arrangement is convenient when one spouse has a greater need for medical assistance, allowing them to continue living close to one another.

“When you drive around the campus here, it really looks like you’re driving through a neighborhood,” Waters says.

There was a patch of empty land between buildings, however, that many residents felt needed something. Waters thought instantly of crepe myrtles.

“First, I went to Norma Ussery and executive director Mark Lenhard for approval,” Waters says. They referred Waters to Dr. Mary Stevens, vice president of Retirement Services for Buckner Baptist Charities.

Since Buckner Village is classified as non-profit, all donations could be considered tax-deductible. Having received a green light from Stevens, Waters began soliciting funds to purchase the trees.

“We had initial anonymous contribution of $500,” he says, “and currently have raised well over $1,000, with all the contributions coming from our residents.”

As the person in charge of maintenance and grounds, Ussery is working closely with Waters to implement the program.

“Kathy Key, director of eldercare services, told us about ‘Trees for Dallas’” Ussery says, “and we contacted them about acquiring the crepe myrtles.”

“Trees for Dallas” provides trees exclusively for non-profit organizations at greatly reduced prices. The organization was originally funded by a grant from the Fina Corporation and distributes approximately 15,000 trees annually to public lands in conjunction with schools, churches and neighborhood associations.

On a recent Saturday, volunteers from the First Baptist Church’s “Contemporary Adult 9 Class” arrived at Buckner Village to plant 25 10-gallon crepe myrtle trees. To thank the volunteers, the resident council prepared snacks and refreshments.

“They had such a good time with us, they want to know when they can come back and help out with another project,” Waters says.

The volunteers also helped landscape the area around the trees with stones and flowers. The residents and the groundskeeping crew are working together to water and care for the new trees.

Waters hopes to purchase more trees for the area.

“I planted 30,000 daffodils at Hideaway Lake,” he says, “and since the lot is on a street called ‘Vienna Circle,’ I want to help create our own ‘Vienna Woods.’”