Susan Hummel takes winters off, but during spring, summer, and fall, she’s busy bettering her home at Havenwood of Onalaska. Susan, a master gardener, volunteers her time and energy to keep the community grounds healthy and looking fresh.
For most of her life, Susan has been gardening. Though she no longer has her own vegetable garden, she hasn’t stopped cultivating the spaces around her. After she retired, she went to Western Technical College (WTC) in La Crosse to earn her Master Gardener Certificate.
“I’ve always liked digging in the dirt. I like being outdoors and making things look good,” she explained. “But I learned a lot in WTC’s program. Some of it was book learning, but a lot of it was practical. I’m 77 years old, and I learn something new every single day.”
After her husband passed away, Susan sold her home, along with its two acres, and moved around. She described this season as difficult, living alone and struggling to find community. When she moved to Havenwood almost two years ago, she found a place where she was welcomed—and where she could give back. “Coming here to find friends and purpose was a very good thing for me. I’m totally happy here,” said Susan. “They let me dig in the dirt and use my skills, too. That was a really nice surprise.”
As resident gardener, Susan spends hours weeding, pruning, and planting. This year, she regenerated the mulch around the building and is working to keep the weeds away. Her neighbors and friends love seeing the results of Susan’s dedication, too. “She is such a blessing to our community,” commented Kathleen Manning, director of life enrichment. “Susan works so hard to share her talent, and everyone benefits.”
At the end of the day, Susan doesn’t see her time spent gardening and maintaining the grounds as work. “I feel good when I’m outside and being productive,” she explained. “I’m not working—I’m making my home beautiful, and that makes me happy.”