Skip to the main content.
Donate Need help?
Donate Need help?
Susie's Forest - Friendship Park Group gathered on a foggy Saturday to dedicate heart-shaped tree park.

This blog post is a little different for UGM. It’s not really about the homeless. Not directly anyway. It’s not about meals or shelter or recovery. It’s not about anything we did. Actually, UGM is a bit player in this story.

This blog post is here because it’s about hope and dreams and how one person can make a difference.susie-forest-thumb

Susie's ForestFirst, there was Susie. Susie loved trees, nature, biking and walking. She wanted to create livable communities and spent her early adult life working for non-profits that advocated for bicyclists and pedestrians. Susie’s life ended way too soon when she was hit by a bus as she was legally crossing the street.

Susie’s mom, Nancy MacKerrow, started Susie’s Forest as a “living, growing, legacy” to her daughter. Nancy plants trees - mostly in urban areas - as a way of spreading beauty, but also as a way of connecting people. Every tree has a story.

"Whether it is to celebrate the birth of a newborn or a special anniversary, as a memorial for someone else taken too soon, or to celebrate a reading program at a local library or school, each Susie tree is deeply rooted in personal connection." (Susie's Forest website)

And that brings us to Holly, age 9.

Holly's dad is a landscape architect and member of the Spokane Park Board. When she was 7, Holly asked her dad if she could help him design a park. The result was a heart-shaped tree park that, after two years of delays and persistent reminders on Holly's part, came to fruition this last Saturday. This article in The Spokesman Review does a great job of showcasing Holly's perseverance.

And, finally, we come to the UGM connection. Of the 10 trees planted in the shape of a heart at Friendship Park, one is for Susie; one is for Holly; and the other eight are dedicated to organizations helping children. One tree is specifically dedicated to the children of Anna Ogden Hall.

Several of our children attended the event on Saturday. They hung messages on the tree. As the messages fall to the ground and disintegrate, Nancy said, they would become part of the tree's story. Most of all, Nancy wanted the children to hear this message: It's good to have dreams, and you can work hard to make those dreams come true.Susie's Forest

That's a message that resonates.

Nancy had a dream about a forest of trees in honor of her daughter Susie.

Holly had a dream about a heart-shaped park.

The women and children of Anna Ogden Hall have dreams of new futures and healthy, happy lives.

The Union Gospel Mission has a dream of lives and families restored, people who were once in despair returning to society as healthy, whole contributing members.

What are your dreams?

We'd love to hear about them.

- Barbara Comito, UGM staff writer

Expo '74's legacy: A reflection on homelessness in Spokane

3 min read

Expo '74's legacy: A reflection on homelessness in Spokane

As we continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Expo ’74, I want to take a look back in time. As a high school student, I heard about how the...

Read More
Life Recovery Commencement: Freedom from addiction

6 min read

Life Recovery Commencement: Freedom from addiction

Freedom From Addiction Every June, we invite the community to Commencement, a celebration of the incredible successes of the individuals who’ve...

Read More
Gratitude In Action: A heart-to-heart message from Phil Altmeyer

2 min read

Gratitude In Action: A heart-to-heart message from Phil Altmeyer

Give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) I’ve always marveled that one of the things God wills for our life...

Read More
Hypocrite

Hypocrite

My teenage daughters told me the other day that they grew up thinking “hypocrite” was a bad word, akin to calling someone a curse word. Funny how our...

Read More
Teaching Children to Serve Others

Teaching Children to Serve Others

“Share.” As a parent, how many times do you suppose you’ve said that word? We want our children to be generous, selfless, compassionate, but...

Read More
Core Values: Life Transformation

Core Values: Life Transformation

This is part of a series on UGM's Core Values. Read a variety of staff members' musings on God-dependence, Christ-likeness, Pursuing Excellence, ...

Read More