A Tree for Emma Coleman
Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 21:04
A group of students have started a fund in honor of Emma Coleman ’14, who passed away last November, in order to plant a commemorative tree on Smith’s campus. The group aims to raise $5,000 for the project.
“We originally wanted to honor Emma’s life with something lasting, and her love for the natural world inspired us to raise money for a tree,” said Jean Hoffheimer ’14. The idea for a tree came from Coleman’s mother, Rebecca Cross, who preferred planting a living tree over installing a bench to remember her daughter.
“A tree is a symbol of long-lasting life, something Emma wasn’t given,” said Hannah Rousselot ’14.
The on-campus efforts to raise money for the tree have been organized by Hoffheimer, Rousselot, and Caroline von Hermann ’14, who were close to Coleman during her time at Smith. Rousselot and von Hermann were the main organizers of the memorial service held for Coleman, with the support of the Religious Life office.
The project met with some hesitancy from the Smith administration at first. While not opposed to the project, the college was limited in publicizing the fundraising effort due to strict rules about soliciting money for non-Smith charities. This forced the group to utilize popular social media in order to raise awareness about the project and bring in more donations.
“After Caroline and Hannah mentioned the goal, I created the Web site to help raise the money,” said Hoffheimer.
“Raising $5,000 is difficult work. However, when Jean made the Web site, the money kept coming in,” von Hermann said.
The goal of $5,000 was set to meet Smith’s policies, which require this amount in order for the planting and continued maintenance of the tree. Additionally, tax and Web site transaction fees bring the total cost to $5,225.
“The money will be given to the Botanical Garden,” said von Hermann. “The tree will be planted in May and we hope to have the money by then.” The project is about $900 away from its goal, having collected $4,127 so far. While the college was restricted from publicizing the event, the Smith Fund did provide advice on how to publicize the event.
Reactions from the campus have been positive. “Most people are extremely happy to see how hard we’ve worked and how dedicated we are to honoring Emma’s life,” said Rousselot.
The group plans to plant an Asian elm overlooking Paradise Pond, on the lawn behind the President’s house. “Emma emphasized the importance of spending time in nature, and during her time at Smith dedicated many hours to exploring the outdoors,” said Hoffheimer.
“Before she died, she reminded us to ‘Remember how beautiful the world is’. This is a way for us all to appreciate her life and legacy in a healthy, enduring manner,” she continued.
“By planting this tree, we are giving the entire Smith community somewhere to go when they miss her or need to speak to her. This tree is as much for us as it is for her,” said Rousselot.
While the group hopes to have the funds raised by May, donations will be accepted until they reach their goal. For more information about the project or to make a donation, visit www.atreeforemma.com.