Memorial Garden Honoring Departed Toni’s Kitchen Guests Dedicated


Toni’s Kitchen, a food ministry of St. Luke’s Church, dedicated a Memorial Garden on the grounds of the church on Saturday, September 14, to honor longtime and well-loved guests of Toni’s who have passed away.  The Rev. John Mennell, Rector of St. Luke’s Church, led a group of volunteers and friends of Toni’s Kitchen and St. Luke’s in a short service to open the garden.


Montclair Eagle Scout John Colbert co-designed and built the garden.  It features a series of flagstones of various sizes and shapes with gravel in between.  On the gravel are individual stones with the first names of the honored guests.  On one side of the garden are other stones inscribed with quotes from the Bible that were selected by current guests of Toni’s Kitchen.


Montclair Eagle Scout John Colbert designed and built the garden
Montclair Eagle Scout John Colbert co-designed and built the garden.

John Colbert says the garden took a few months to plan and three days to install.  He says that Toni’s Kitchen cares about its guests and that the garden “gives you a visual, tangible, very permanent reminder” of the connection between Toni’s and its guests.


Anne Mernin, Director of Outreach for Toni’s Kitchen, says the garden is a meaningful way to remember special guests.


“So many of our guests are with us for a long time, and they become part of the family at Toni’s Kitchen,” Anne says.  “Creating this permanent memorial will ensure that their memories live on for the staff, volunteers and other guests whose lives they touched so deeply.”


The garden is nestled on the grounds of St. Luke’s Church on South Fullerton Street.  Walkers passing the Church will be able to see and reflect on the garden. 


John Colbert says the garden reflects the special relationship between Toni’s Kitchen and its guests.  “Toni’s Kitchen has a great sense of how to make the people they serve feed like they’re in the community…that they have people who care about them.”  The garden, he says, really crystalizes and makes it visually clear that the people here are cared for.”