September 2022 Volunteer Appreciation Event

By Louise Polli

Rainy skies couldn’t damp­en the spir­its of any of the Arbore­tum mem­bers and friends who gath­ered in the Meet­ing House on Sep­tem­ber 25th to cel­e­brate our vol­un­teers and allies.

The food was plen­ti­ful, the con­ver­sa­tion live­ly, and the views off the deck always inspir­ing, no mat­ter the weather.

As Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Fred Breglia and Board Pres­i­dent Jim Paley not­ed, vol­un­teers are the lifeblood of our orga­ni­za­tion. It’s great to be part of the Lan­dis fam­i­ly,” Fred said. We were able to accom­plish so many things.” This year’s accom­plish­ments includ­ed the devel­op­ment and instal­la­tion of a new entry­way sign, the estab­lish­ment of the Ann Jaster memo­r­i­al art gallery, the repair of the Farm­house steps, the ded­i­ca­tion of the Shan­ti Vun Med­i­ta­tion Gar­den, improve­ments to the Bog Gar­den, and record atten­dance at the 5K race in August. New and ongo­ing projects are just as impres­sive: upgrades to our wel­com­ing kiosk, expan­sion of our foot­print in Mont­gomery Coun­ty with greater acces­si­bil­i­ty to our Water­fall Trail, struc­tur­al prun­ing of our hor­ti­cul­tur­al col­lec­tions, and exten­sive removal of invasives.

Jim and Fred acknowl­edged that it’s always dif­fi­cult to choose the year’s awardees, since so many vol­un­teers con­tribute to every aspect of the Arboretum’s oper­a­tions in time, mate­ri­als, labor, and beyond. With­out these efforts, Lan­dis would not be the suc­cess it is today.

Susan Stran­gia was named Vol­un­teer of the Year. Jim thanked her for real­ly step­ping up and tak­ing a lead­er­ship role.” Susan said I am hum­bled since I only start­ed vol­un­teer­ing last year… Anne Don­nel­ly pulled me in .… “ Look­ing out at the assem­bled crowd of vol­un­teers, she remarked, I couldn’t get this if it weren’t for you.” 

In a rel­a­tive­ly short time, Susan has led a Sec­ond Sun­day Snow­shoe hike, staffed some of our pub­lic events, and coor­di­nat­ed the bake sales. Anne Don­nel­ly and oth­ers are men­tor­ing her to even­tu­al­ly assume the role of Vol­un­teer Coor­di­na­tor. Susan par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoys the pub­lic con­tact, a chance to get new and return­ing peo­ple excit­ed about the Arbore­tum. What is the most chal­leng­ing part of her ser­vice? There’s lots of com­pe­ti­tion for your time .… It’s a bal­anc­ing act.” Like many of our vol­un­teers, Susan is gen­er­ous with her time here and else­where while still find­ing time to spend with her family.

It’s no sur­prise to any­one at Lan­dis that Nick Zabawsky was select­ed for this year’s Great Oak award. In addi­tion to a framed com­mem­o­ra­tive cer­tifi­cate, he received a wine stop­per craft­ed from the wood of our beloved sev­er­al-hun­dred-year-old Great Oak, top­pled in a storm in 2011. Fred not­ed that our Life­time Achieve­ment Award” has since mor­phed into the Great Oak award, a fit­ting trib­ute to the icon­ic woody trea­sure and all it has meant to Lan­dis. In oak we trust,” Fred quipped. 

A skilled gar­den­er, Nick con­tin­ues to donate approx­i­mate­ly 250300 plants a year to our plant sales. His exper­tise is leg­endary, a qui­et pres­ence out among the rows of plants at the bi-annu­al sales: he is Lan­dis’ num­ber one plant expert at the sales. If you have a ques­tion, Nick has the answers, the sug­ges­tions, the help you are seek­ing in that pletho­ra of herba­ceous and woody plants sur­round­ing you. 

Why does Nick con­tin­ue to give so much of his time and exper­tise to Lan­dis? I love gar­den­ing and plants … and the peo­ple, a won­der­ful bunch of peo­ple.” Despite the many con­tri­bu­tions he has made over the years, Nick was hum­bled as this year’s awardee. I’m very hon­ored. When I look around, a lot of peo­ple are more deserving.” 

We respect­ful­ly dis­agree. Since 1989, Nick has left his mark on the Arbore­tum. He quick­ly became a Board trustee, then rose to lead­er­ship as its pres­i­dent. Though some things have changed, Nick has been a con­stant pres­ence and con­trib­u­tor to the Arboretum’s growth and devel­op­ment. We couldn’t do it with­out him.

This year’s event fea­tured a won­der­ful meal assem­bled by the Lan­dis Board and coor­di­nat­ed by Wendy Kass, as well as two peren­ni­al favorites, a time­ly and infor­ma­tive Q & A with Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Fred Breglia and a read­ing of a Fred Lape poem, Blue Columbine,” by Lan­dis His­to­ri­an Lee Latimer.

Our thanks to both awardees and to all the vol­un­teers and allies. Your gen­eros­i­ty and sup­port are priceless.

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Fall 2022

Volume 40 , Number 3

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