May is "Mental Health Awareness Month." NY1's latest Queens Person of the Week is doing what he can to help those living with mental illness "blossom." NY1's Leisha Majtan introduces us.
Gardening is in his blood now, but Sean Brennan says he wasn't born with a green thumb.
"I hated as a kid when I had to go out and pull weeds. I didn't mind picking the vegetables during harvest because that meant I could eat them!" said Brennan.
It wasn't until the Jamaica resident was diagnosed with manic depression that he realized he had a passion for it.
"While I was hospitalized, I happened to look out of my window everyday and see this empty space. And every day, in that empty space, I planted a different crop."
Now Brennan is using that passion to inspire others who have mental illness.
Brennan is the founder of "Brain Food Garden Project" -- an organization that provides therapy through gardening.
And he's brought that project to "Markus Gardens" -- a supportive housing project for people with mental illness.
"Some people experience gardening as, 'this is a purpose. It can fulfill somebody in an area that maybe a 9 to 5 job can't do," said Markus Gardens Program Director Melissa Aguilar.
And that's exactly what it did for Brennan.
He says growing his own food encouraged not just a healthier body -- but also a healthier mind.
"Once I had my hands in the dirt, once I connected to the Earth, I was -- my mind -- was better," said Brennan.
Those involved with the club say Brennan's project has become a key tool for recovery.
"I think it's important to get as much information on what this is, what it's like to have a mental illness. The more information you put out there, the less power it has on us and everyone in general," said intern Robert Shun.
Brennan hopes to expand the project throughout the City to help even more people blossom.
"I love what I do. I know that it makes me healthier. And I'm starting to see in the community that it makes other people healthier. And that's what it's all about," said Brennan.
And so, for helping the residents of Markus Gardens grow to new heights, Sean Brennan is our Queens Person of the Week.
Leisha Majtan, NY1.