On October 25, 2014, at age 77, Eva Colligan Iford welcomed visitors to the 12th annual First Harvest Community Garden open house – her most successful event to date. Eva guided a steady flow of St. Landry Parish residents, legislators and community leaders through a neighborhood lot in Opelousas with row after row of abundant vegetables she nurtured to help those in need. With Election Day just two weeks away, parish candidates could not pass up a photo opportunity in Eva’s iconic and important community garden.
When Eva started her garden, she never dreamed it might one day become a source of civic pride. Her goals were simple: to grow fresh vegetables for people with limited incomes and to engage local children in growing food, giving them the opportunity to participate in a productive activity where they could develop skills, build confidence and affirm their ability to make a positive difference in their community. Simple goals, yes – but difficult to actually achieve and sustain. While drive and determination are obviously important, it takes skills acquired through years of life experience to transform a garden into a community landmark.
Eva has long demonstrated a strong compassion toward the less fortunate and a compelling desire to help them rise above their circumstances. And now, her skills and years of life experience have helped her channel a compassion for others into a specific goal toward a sustainable reality. It takes tough skin and healthy emotional resilience to gather the support needed to transform a vacant lot into a thriving source of nutrition and life skills education for the community’s youth. Even so, Eva’s warm, loving demeanor shines through. Eva’s success reminds us that life experience can give us not only the understanding to care about others, but the tools to turn that compassion into action and results.
Eva Colligan Iford … Peoples Health Champion.
If you think about it, you probably know a Champion.
A Champion may even be you. Nominate yourself or someone you know—like a relative, co-worker or neighbor—as a Peoples Health Champion.