Devastated and heartbroken after the death of her 1-year-old cousin, Sasha Hausman wanted to memorialize the little girl in an enduring and meaningful way.
As is tradition with bat mitzvah celebrations, the 13-year-old Hausman received gifts of money from friends and family as part of the Jewish coming-of-age ritual. But instead of keeping the money, she gave all of it -- some $10,000 -- to help pay for a new garden at Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery to honor her cousin.
On Friday, the new "interactive nature experience" called Lucy's Garden was dedicated in memory of Lucy Shults, Hausman's cousin who died unexpectedly while on vacation with her family in 2010.
The garden project at the Crisis Nursery -- a nonprofit that works to end child abuse and neglect -- was predominantly funded by Hausman, who participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the center in Golden Valley. Last year, the Crisis Nursery sheltered more than 2,300 children.
"After my cousin died, I wanted to honor her. These children [at the Crisis Nursery] are innocent but they're caught in a situation," said Hausman, adding that she hopes the garden "makes them smile."
Lucy's Garden is in the front area of the Crisis Nursery and includes new flowers and trees, a Reading Circle, Butterfly Garden, Vegetable Garden and Reflection Path.
Hausman, who attends Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park, started raising funds for the garden in January and celebrated her bat mitzvah in February. It took her two to three months to collect the money donated for the garden.
Hausman lives near the Crisis Nursery and says she'll remember her cousin every time she passes the garden. She wants others to "feel hope" when they see it.
"Even in a difficult situation, there's always something ... that gives you a reason to be happy," Hausman said. "I'm glad I did this instead of taking the money for myself. I feel like I did a good thing, and it impacted a lot of people."
Rose French • 612-673-4352