FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - In between book projects, Hillsborough author Rikki Lynn Hauss has been working on a Master's thesis, spending as much time in front of her computer writing and researching as she does outdoors on the grounds of Sister2Sister off Hamilton Boulevard.where she has engineered a re-landscaping of the grounds.

The multi-pavilion garden project as a component of her thesis for a degree in social work.

On Saturday, June 16 will Sister2Sister will mark a day of new traditions. This newly-independent nonprofit, whose work supporting the cancer community spans over 18 years, will celebrate its inaugural Open House with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 12:15 p.m.

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In an effort to put their services and expansive facility on display, the day's events include an unveiling of the multi-pavilion garden, a light luncheon, entertainment, and a basket raffle all situated on the grounds of Somerset's historic Merrynook cottage. 

Sister2Sister has been an integral provider for minority and underprivileged women facing breast cancer since the new millennium, with services such as emotional support, financial aid and a plethora of external resources. 

This year, with the addition of  Hauss, new methodologies like mindfulness and integrating new programs like yoga and nutrition have become commonplace at the Sisters House.

Hauss said the crowning achievement of her academic career is the construction of the gardens of honor, which the entire staff is looking forward to sharing with the community this Saturday

"I was told early on that a social worker's efforts should reflect professional goal setting," she explains, "but it should also offer some of my own flavor."

The gardens started out as a way for the intern to honor her a friend who recently passed, but was a survivor of metastatic breast cancer for over 10 years. From there, the desire to memorialize an outdoor space grew into a public event to build up Sister2Sister's recognition in Somerset and the surrounding counties.

Severe winter storms delayed much of the clearing and preparation work on the three-acre property, but her determination and help from volunteers kept the project on or near schedule.

For a young woman with a passion for history and horticulture, taking derivations from her Hillsborough home and writing experience with "The Duchess of South Somerville," the internship with Sister2Sister has proven to be a brilliant match for her final coursework.

Hauss has put aside a second book project for the time being, but promises to return to the rough draft after taking a short break once the thesis is completed.

Hauss looks forward to a professional career as a practicing social worker with her MSW coming from Arizona State University. 

Several local businesses donated materials and plants to the project, including Meadows Services Inc., Lowes of Hillsborough, Pantano's Nursery,  Genentech and, Pilgrim River LLC..