The garden features a small mural dedicated to Deputy Shannon Bennett, along with a painted rock garden. Also featured is a rock garden dedicated to the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
Deputy Shannon Bennett, 39, was a twelve-year veteran and contracted COVID-19 in the line of duty. He passed shortly after his diagnosis. Not long after, the department suffered another devastating loss.
Nikita Thompson passed away on May 4, 2020. Amid the pandemic. A BSO dispatcher, she was loved and missed by many, including her good friend and coworker, Roxanne Haubrich.
Roxanne had a vision for the space that stemmed from her love of rocks. Not just any rock, but those with kind messages painted on them. What began in a small coffee shop known as The Grind Kindness Rock Project has quickly grown to many individual cities taking on their own kindness rock projects. The group Rockin’ Broward with a Purpose now has over 21 projects, where like-minded individuals get together, paint rocks with kind messages, and get things done in times of need.
Nakima’s Butterfly Garden was no small feat. It took significant planning and development. Roxanne was able to get the assistance of many local businesses and neighboring police departments such as Wilton manors PD to contribute. The garden was carefully planned and coordinated with plants that would attract both butterflies and their larvae. “It takes a village”, said Roxanne. “It’s not about me; it’s about all of the other people that helped.”
The garden also features seven benches to commemorate the seven BSO employees who passed. On the day of the opening, Nikama’s family was there to add their rocks to the garden and an award presentation.
The award was dedicated to Nikima as a citizenship award for her 16 years of service.
Rhiannon Samoyedny was born and raised in South Florida. She has lived in Oakland Park for over 25 years and purchased her home in Garden Acres in 2012 where she resides with her husband, two teenaged boys, a few rescue cats, and her dog.
Her professional career began as a project manager and estimator for a small Oakland Park construction company and she later went on to earn her degree in Court Reporting, where she later incorporated her own small business RS Reporting, Inc.
She has a passion for gardening and attends many horticulture classes and workshops. She is also an LGA (Local Government Academy) graduate, class of 2019, and an active community volunteer and activist. You can usually find her around town at various Oakland Park meetings and events with her notebook, so be sure to say hello.