For Black History Month, I created a series showcasing our everyday heroes, who work tirelessly day in and day out to give back to their community. The work that they do does not require recognition. The individuals were selected based on their dedication and positive community efforts. The first person being recognized this month is Bridget Pettis.
Bridget Pettis is an Assistant Coach of the Chicago Sky Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), a professional basketball team.
She is an American former college and professional basketball player who was a guard in the WNBA for eight seasons during the 1990s and 2000s.
Pettis was selected by the Phoenix Mercury as the seventh pick in the first round of the WNBA’s inaugural 1997 draft.
After playing for the Mercury until 2001, Pettis joined the Indiana Fever until 2003 before returning to the Mercury in 2006 and retiring after that season. She came out of retirement to become the Assistant Coach of Chicago Sky.
During her offseason, she retreats to her home in Phoenix, AZ, where she can be found in her community garden and working her non-profit Project Roots AZ.
“I want to live and I want my children to live”
Project Roots AZ is a local non-profit organization, located in South Phoenix, Arizona. The purpose of Project Roots is to educate and feed the homeless through a local community garden and mobile kitchen service.
According to Pettis, Project Roots AZ was created due to a need in the community. “The people in this community are ready to take control of their health, they want to live healthier lives and they need options to do it.”
Pettis grew up in East Chicago and have witnessed first hand the effects of heart disease and diabetes in her own family.
“Being an athlete, I always ate healthy and wanted to maintain that lifestyle and I want to teach my family how to care for themselves,” Pettis stated.
“I want to live and I want my children to live. I want to leave behind a legacy that they can pass down from one generation to the next,” Pettis stated, looking at her thirteen-year-old son, who was shaking his head in agreement.
When asked about the community response to the community garden, Pettis stated that her community responded out of love and has shown much support for the garden.
“The families in this community know that the timing is right. They want to eat better and they want their children to eat healthy. They also have an appreciation and respect for nature when they grow their own food.”
Pettis uses compost for her soil, so no item goes to waste.
Pettis not only provides a way for others to plant and grow their own food, but she also donates her food to local food banks and runs a soup kitchen.
Pettis’s love for gardening has motivated her to branch out. She plans to start a community garden in her hometown in East Chicago/Gary Indiana this summer.
While she is away, she will have volunteers maintain the Phoenix Community Garden located at Spaces of Opportunity.
“My mission is to end all homelessness in Phoenix and my hometown, through the help of our community gardens programs. This is the impact I want to leave for my community and my family, love through food.”
You can find Pettis this Saturday, February 15 for her event of planting 200 trees. This event is done in honor of Black History Month and Kobe and Gianna Bryant, both of who died in a tragic helicopter accident, along with seven others on January 26, 2020.
“Kobe’s death impacted the community in such a major way, I feel like this is one way of honoring his life. He was such a light to us all,” Pettis said.
The Tree Planting event will take place at Spaces of Opportunity, located at 1200 W. Vineyard Rd. Phoenix, AZ, 85014, from 11 am – 3 pm.
She is also looking for volunteers or donations. You can attend the event or for more information, please go to https://store.urbanfarm.org/treedonation.
For those who already have spaces at Protect Roots, they can stop by anytime to tend to their space.
If you are interested in a space at Project Roots to grow your own food or Volunteer opportunities, you can contact them at Director@projectrootsaz.org or by phone 602-577-2090.