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Sandy Huber: Helping Peace to Flourish

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The concept of peace has been around a lot longer than Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream. For some, the concept of peace began back in the Garden of Eden. Others say that peace must come from within, and that’s exactly what has happened with Sandy Huber’s dream, the University Park World Peace Rose Garden. Her premise is simple and straightforward: “We need more places of peace and beauty in our community.”

Sandy has assembled a team of women who display that inner peace by working together to promote a community where health and education embody everything that is peaceful. Amidst the traffic and hubbub of downtown Stockton there lies an oasis where people go to seek education, healthcare and solace. Sandy’s enthusiasm and dedication are evident from the moment she takes your hand in a firm but friendly handshake and then bestows a warm and caring hug when you part.

The University Park World Peace Rose Garden began behind Sandy’s folks barn with the potting of 250 bare-root roses that were eventually transferred to the Rose Garden. It is now housed in the 102-acre University Park redevelopment project in downtown Stockton. “This project would not have been possible without the emotional and financial support and unwavering encouragement and commitment of my husband, Kevin, and our team at Grupe Commercial Company,” Sandy noted.

Officially opened in May 2015, the garden is part of the International World Peace Rose Gardens Organization founded by T.J. David and Sylvia Villalobos, and it is sister affiliated to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have A Dream” World Peace Garden in Atlanta, Georgia. The nonprofit organization was incorporated in 1988 for the purpose of creating beautiful rose gardens for peace on public, accessible sites.

The theme of the garden is Peace Through Non Violence and students in our local school systems participate in the “Peace Begins With Me” contest, along with other students from around the world. Winning Messages Of Peace are printed on plaques in the rose garden to inspire and encourage visitors. Sandy’s passion is evident as she talks about this year’s winner, Emma Chappell, whose trip last month to Atlanta was completely funded by the generosity of the community.

Emma’s Message of Peace was selected to go into the Atlanta garden, where there are over a million visitors each year. Emma and her family went there to unveil her message of peace and Sandy could not be more gratified that it’s all connecting back to Stockton, California. “Emma is a very sweet soul and I would like to have her talk to the community about what peace is and how important it is, not just to a community but to a family. We are helping to change her life.”

Sandy’s Message of Peace extends past the University Garden to the Stockton Police Department, where her efficient team has assembled the Ambassador’s Garden in support of our peace officers. This year, for the third anniversary of the inception of the rose garden, Sandy included the equine unit to promote the theme of collaboration. “Most of these students’ interactions with the police department have not always been positive. Here they got to meet and greet, touch the horses, and stay all day if they wanted.” Sandy’s vision is being realized through the curriculum of peace in the classroom and extending into the community. “More parents are coming to our events as they learn the meaning of peace through their children.”

Sandy feels that one of the most exciting things that happened this year was when they went back to the schools for the Peace Begins with Me contest. The kids were excited because they knew their classmates were going to win and their message would go onto a plaque in the rose garden. “All of a sudden, it’s cool to be a peacemaker. The shift that the IWPO told me would happen, has happened. Before, I felt like I was describing a dream, whereas now I am experiencing it,” she affirmed.

During Sandy’s cover photo shoot, the reality of what this event actually means began to set in. “I can’t believe this is my life right now. I can’t believe someone is actually taking pictures of my passion; someone is going to be sharing my story.” Two little girls visited the garden while their mother was waiting for a friend in one of the medical offices. Bending to the girls’ level, Sandy stopped the session to explain to them the meaning and design of the garden.

The current outline includes 13 planters that represent rays of the sun. Behind each bench is planted a fragrant Intrigue rose so that when visitors sit in the garden they can experience the delightful and soothing fragrance. There are 50 varieties, chosen based on disease resistance, color, fragrance and name, so that everyone is included, from Barrone de Rothschild to Marilyn Monroe. Sandy showed the girls the plaques and encouraged them to add their own message of peace to the box.

Sandy welcomes you to visit University Park to enjoy the Discovery Trail, a lovely one-mile walk through the campus with several stops highlighting art, architecture and historical features, all shaded by heritage oak trees. Spread a blanket on the lawn by the lake and listen to the tranquil water fountains and the birds, or just relax on comfortable benches lakeside in this safe and peaceful atmosphere. “Come stroll, relax, think, pray, dream and be inspired at the World Peace Rose Garden. Bask in the sunshine, rest in the shade, smell the roses, and leave your Message of Peace in the peace box located at the garden.”

International Day of Peace Celebration
Visit the University Park World Peace Rose Garden on September 21, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to celebrate International Day of Peace. This event builds relationships and promotes peace throughout our community, nation, and the world.

Written by: Sharon Baker