Hope’s Garden helping detainees at DuPage County Jail and giving them hope

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WHEATON, Ill. — A memorial garden is providing both food and purpose in DuPage County.

Hope’s Garden was born out of tragedy. Now it’s feeding the community and the souls of detainees.

Mandi Powers and Diana Core are detainees at the DuPage County Jail awaiting trial. They are non-violent offenders working towards sobriety.

For three days a week, three hours a day, they’ll make sure the garden keeps growing — planting tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and herbs to give to local food pantries, and flowers for victims of domestic violence. 

“These pots will probably produce somewhere between 100 to 200 pounds of food to local food pantries and homeless shelters,” DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick said.

Hope’s Garden is also a memorial that honors Baby Hope — an infant found dead in a remote wooded area near Wheaton four years ago. She had been abandoned in a backpack. Her death deeply affected DuPage County law enforcement. 

“It’s just been one of those cases that was really really hard to resolve both internally and externally,” Mendrick said.

Investigators have not been able to find the parents yet. The garden helps them as well. 

Powers said the garden is calming and serene.

There are no outdoor courtyards at the DuPage County Jail and the garden gives the detainees hope for the future.

DuPage County authorities are still searching for Baby Hope’s parents. DNA shows they are Hispanic and that her mother was taking medication for either epilepsy or bipolar disorder. They could use help if you have any information.

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