Allies’ Horticultural Therapy Program Launches “Project Grow Assistant” Initiative

Project Grow, Allies’ horticultural therapy program for people with developmental disabilities and special needs, recently launched a new “Project Grow Assistant” initiative to recognize the talents and efforts of individuals within the gardening program.

MaryAnne McMillan, HTR, a registered horticultural therapist who manages the Project Grow program, remarked, “Each week we select a different individual to become an assistant for the program. The assistant passes out materials to participants in the horticultural therapy sessions, makes sure that participants understand what we are doing in each session, and helps people if they have questions. Once we’re out in the gardens again, the assistant will help with tasks such as planting, weeding, harvesting, and watering. They will also assist us in the Duke Farms Community Garden as we prepare produce, herbs, and flowers for distribution to the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and the Somerset/Hunterdon County Food Banks.”

Allies’ day program participants are very excited about the assistant role, so much so that MaryAnne had to create a running list of everyone that has expressed an interest in becoming a Project Grow Assistant.

“After they complete their time as the Project Grow Assistant, the assistant receives a certificate recognizing their hard work, the knowledge that they gained about gardening, and their efforts in helping others in the program to learn and grow.”

Brittany Ball at Allies’ Flemington Day Program was the first recipient of the certificate. Brittany loves gardening at Duke Farms Community Garden as well as the raised garden beds at Flemington Day Program. When asked about her award she said, “I enjoyed being the Project Grow Assistant because I liked helping MaryAnne pass out the materials and helping her inform individuals what we will be doing for the day.”

Frances Pastore, a client of Allies for 14 years, who is also employed as a gardener for Project Grow, was the second recipient of the “Project Grow Assistant” certificate, followed by Daniel Smith and Billie Hawkins of the Mercer Day Program.

MaryAnne said, “All of our assistants have been wonderful! They did such an excellent job. Daniel was so excited to receive his certificate, he was waiting for me at the door when I came in to receive it,” she chuckled.

For more information about Project Grow, or helping to sponsor the program, please email MaryAnne McMillan, HTR, at

Brittany Ball, Project Grow Assistant

Frances Pastore, Project Grow Assistant

Billie Hawkins, Project Grow Assistant

Daniel Smith, Project Grow Assistant

To view photos of future Project Grow Assistants and what’s blooming at Project Grow throughout the year, visit “Allies NJ” on Facebook.

Allies, Inc. is a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing housing, healthcare, meaningful employment and recreational activities to people with special needs in the communities of their choice. To learn more, visit

Contact: Nicole Zamerovsky, Director of Communications, Allies, Inc.
Cell: 609-508-6181