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Women for Change to host the Big Event on Saturday in Carbondale
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Women for Change to host the Big Event on Saturday in Carbondale

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Deborah Woods (from left), Susan Harper, Rosie Miller, Darnecea Moultier, Ginger Rye, Iray Tisdale, Janet H. Miller, Kate Heist, Dotha Chester and Constance Burtley are part of the Women for Change group in Carbondale. The organization will be hosting its annual Big Event on Saturday—normally a unity march, but this year, due to the pandemic, it will be a unity motorcade. The parade will start at 10:30 a.m. at the Rock Hill Missionary Church and make its way to the Red Hen Garden on Larch Street.

CARBONDALE — Women for Change/Unity in the Community will host its fourth annual Big Event on Saturday at the Women For Change Red Hen Garden.

Because of COVID-19, the Big Event’s traditional Unity March will be a Unity Motorcade Parade. Vehicles will line up from 10 to 10:30 a.m. at Rock Hill Baptist Missionary Baptist Church, on the corner of East Monroe and South Marion streets. The parade starts on South Marion Street north to Jackson Street, west to North Washington Street, then north to East Larch Street, stopping at the garden, which is 511 E. Larch St.

Those attending are asked to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

The event at Red Hen Garden will begin at 11 a.m. The theme and focus of this year’s Big Event is “The Garden.” This year’s program will focus on how the Garden is a vital food resource to keep the community safe and healthy. The group’s goals is to educate the younger generation to become more “garden friendly” and to remind everyone that garden produce is like medicine to the body.

Presentations will include how produce and herbs boost the immune system, produce to help control chronic diseases, grilling vegetables, and Surfing into Summer, a five-week Food Program at Bethel AME to feed children 18 and younger.

The celebration will include samples from the garden, music and giveaways. In addition, Cristaudo’s, part of the Southern Illinois Collaborative Kitchen, will distribute 50 free meals to residents of Northeast Carbondale.

“I think this is an awesome opportunity for our community,” said Susan Harper, chair of the Big Event.

"This will allow everyone to see what we are doing for the community,” said Ginger Rye, president of Women for Change.

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Carbondale’s Women for Change will host its fourth annual Big Event at the Red Hen Garden on East Larch Street on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. starting with a unity motorcade ending at the garden where programs will educate attendees on the benefit of the garden in eating and living healthy.

Red Hen Garden is a true community garden. Deborah Woods and Kate Heist, both of Women for Change, coordinate work in the garden with the help of Food Autonomy Group and volunteers from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. This year’s summer crops have included several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, onions, yellow squash and zucchini, cucumbers, greens (collard, mustard and turnip), kale, watermelon, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and green beans, along with a variety of herbs, flowers, gourds and other plants.

The garden also has a teepee that is used for growing gourds that will be turned into birdhouses by children next year. Children can go inside the teepee.

Woods remembers passing a lot of fruit trees while walking through Northeast Carbondale to Attucks School. That source of fresh fruit has disappeared. The group will plant a plum tree and two pear trees this year in the garden.

“The garden is open to the public and provides free produce for the community. As Kate and I harvest the produce, we put it on the stand. It is available for anyone to take,” Woods said.

“it’s been so much fun,” Heist said. “It’s the only thing keeping me sane. We will accept any and all volunteers who want to remain sane.”

“We pray God will continue to bless us in doing his will,” Harper said.

“We are hoping people show up and really come together under the banner of unity,” Rye said.

For more information about The Big Event 2020 and The Unity Motorcade, contact Women for Change at womenforchange8@gmail.com or WomenForChange-Carbondale on Facebook.

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