GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The newly renovated Grand Rapids Home for Veterans on Tuesday honored a beloved longtime volunteer by dedicating a new memorial garden in her honor.

Sarah Brooks died on Veterans Day last year after contracting COVID-19. She had volunteered at the veterans home for nearly six decades, clocking more than 60,000 hours, as the Department of Michigan American Legion Auxiliary hospital representative at the home.

“May generations come to Sarah’s garden and be refreshed, redirected, renewed, restored and reconciled,” veterans home chaplain Bruce Kalish prayed to open the dedication ceremony. “As they sit on these benches, may the memory of Sarah speak to them of redemption: redeeming the time that they have by doing good, just as she has done for us in our veterans.”

  • Courtesy photo of Sarah Brooks.

Brooks was recalled as an extremely active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Crispus Attucks Unit #59 for 75 years, including two stints as president. Friends and chapter members said she exemplified the organization’s mission of service over self.

“She lived and breathed to help our veterans, their families and other people in the community who needed help,” Betty Rhodes-Machen, a friend of Brooks and secretary of the American Legion Auxiliary chapter, said. “She realized the great need to help those who sacrificed so much to give us our freedoms.”

Veterans home Administrator Tracey Nelson remembered Brooks as a loving person who made everyone feel important and special.

“Even in her passing, her legacy just continues,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the memorial garden was the brainchild of people who live at the home. It was installed by the Kent County Garden Club. Twin Lakes Nursery provided a sugar gum tree.