March 18, 2009

Volunteer Appreciation Brunch 2009

volunteer brunch at fairchild
On Wednesday, March 18, I attended my first Volunteer Appreciation Brunch at Fairchild. The Garden House was packed with over 100 volunteers and many more staff. Food was provided by staff -- their chance to do something for us -- featuring lots of delicious homemade platters, salads and desserts.

Sculptor Mark di Suvero, who is one of the featured artists this season, stopped by to say hello. Apparently, he made a special trip just to see us volunteers.

Last year, over 500 volunteers dedicated 67,000 hours of work to the garden. Board of Trustees director Bruce Greer said in no uncertain terms that the organization would not be able to survive without us. He also told us about how they've managed to stay afloat in these economic uncertain times by being fiscally conservative. While other non-profits are struggling, Fairchild is doing relatively well.

He also talked about the new scientific research facility to be built near the Garden Cafe. This is exciting because the laboratories will be in full view of the public and the scientists will give brief talks to kids everyday. The hope is that more kids will be inspired to study plants or become scientists instead of investment bankers. (I'm paraphrasing, but that's what he said, and as you can well imagine, it got a good laugh from the house.) By the way, Fairchild's education program serves over 50,000 school kids a year.

Pins were given to volunteers who were celebrating 30, 25, 20, 15, 10 and 5 years in the garden. Yes, some people have been volunteering for 30 years! That's a career for some. Most of the volunteers I have met are retired folk, but that doesn't mean there aren't younger, working professionals like myself getting involved.

On a personal note, I bumped into my junior and high school French teachers, whom I hadn't seen in over 20 years! I had no idea they were involved. They are devoted to the education program.

I cannot emphasize how rewarding it is to volunteer for this organization. Five-hundred plus people who have devoted years -- if not decades -- to volunteering can't be wrong.

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