Valley Life for All: Personal growth at the greenhouse
How the Mountain Valley Developmental Services greenhouse keeps David Hayes busy
Special to the Daily
Editor’s note: The Vail Daily, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, continues a monthly series of profiles about people in our community who meet challenge with courage and perseverance.
David Hayes parks his brand new bike on the side of the greenhouse. He loves to ride everywhere he can. But working in the greenhouse where his bike is parked gar-ners just as much enjoyment.
Hayes is an integral team member at the Mountain Valley Developmental Services greenhouse in Glenwood Springs where he’s working hard to prepare for the annual May sale which begins May 7 and runs through June 4.
“I know everybody, so I get the flyers out for the sale,” says Hayes, who has cerebral palsy and unspecified intellectual disadvantages. Hayes has been with the Mountain Valley Developmental Services greenhouse for over 10 years.
Matt Urmson, operations manager at the greenhouse, facilitates and works alongside people with an array of physical and mental challenges.
“We don’t diagnose or focus on disabilities. In the greenhouse we focus on job skills and vocational goals. For instance, David started out mowing lawns, watering, seeding, and now he is learning marketing sales techniques.”
Community inclusion coupled with an end goal for participants to graduate and get a job in the community is what MVDS is all about. Its mission statement is “to encourage and support individuals with developmental disabilities, enhance their ability to live, learn, and work in an independent and inclusive manner, and to educate the community about their contributions and capabilities.”
The greenhouse participants range for 12-20 people a day (12 during COVID restrictions), with tasks rotating every six months to learn new skills. Hayes’ favorite jobs are sales, sweeping, “and getting the word out, to let everybody know.”
Although Hayes once worked in the community, his mother, who was on the board of directors, suggested he might enjoy the greenhouse. “We keep him busy, he makes money, and we don’t want anyone to sit at home and waste away,” says Urmson.
The greenhouse began in 1984 with herbed products. Now it rivals any commercial greenhouse with its lush flowers, greenery and vegetables nearly overtaking the boundaries of the building.
Urmson admits that operating the greenhouse can be exhausting, but has its rewards. “It’s awesome when I see participants light up when they try something new and find out they’re good at it, or when they dance around to their favorite music while they’re working.”