Cassandra Cohen and Alex Weiner loved to play in the garden.
When 13-year-old Cassandra Cohen led the restoration of a children’s garden for her Bat Mitzvah project, she did so not only with aesthetics on her mind, but something deeper.
She wanted to create a lasting memorial for her best friend, Alexa Weiner, who died of brain cancer when she was 10 years old.
The two met at Temple Ahavat Shalom Preschool when they were just three years old.
Days at the Northridge, California preschool often found them playing together in the Temple garden, watering the plants, digging in the soil and getting dirty like kids do. But that garden would eventually become a way to honor Alex after she lost her five year battle with the disease.
When it came time to choose her Bat Mitzvah project, Cassandra’s eyes turned toward the little garden where she had first played with her young friend.
“My goal was to create a Mitzvah project that the kids at the temple would enjoy just like I did when I was at the preschool,” Cohen said. “I wanted to create something beautiful to keep my best friend’s memory alive.”
After raising more than $7,500, Cassandra and her crew of eager volunteers turned what had become little more than a 20 x 100-ft. stretch of dirt, weeds and broken planting beds into Alexa’s Kinder Garden, a rich, interactive “five senses garden.” Cassandra designed the space with the help of her father, Scott Cohen, owner of Green Scene Landscaping and Pools.
Scott said the project took weeks to coordinate and five 4-man crew days for in-house teams to prepare so the volunteers could complete the installation in just a weekend.
“I felt a tremendous sense of pride to be working side by side with my youngest daughter to design and install this memorial garden,” Scott said. “She did a super job raising money for materials and rallying volunteers to join up in the cause.
|Photos above: Cassandra Cohen received help from more than 85 volunteers for her Bat Mitzvah project, which honored her friend, Alexa, who lost her battle with cancer. Bottom left: Cassandra Cohen stands with a memorial honoring her friend Alexa.|
“When she was alive, her best friend Alexa was so much a part of our family that I always thought of her as another daughter of my own.
“Losing her was extremely difficult for everyone. Somehow, in a small way, this garden installed in her honor helped ease the pain a bit. I like knowing that she will be remembered.”
|The Green Scene donated the labor to do the demolition, grading, hardscape, sprinklers, and assist with lawn and planting installation. Here are the vendors that either helped sponsor the project, and/or sold the company product at half price.