The Magic of Volunteering

By Wilma Jozwiak

Landis just completed its first Spring Plant Sale without Anne Donnelly.  Anne was a ubiquitous presence at plant sales and countless other events.  Her “Dragonflies and Damselflies” workshop was one of the most popular offerings on our calendar.   Anne served as our volunteer coordinator for several years -- after even more years as a Board of Trustees member and Landis president. When Anne passed away last October, we mourned a dear friend and a wonder-working volunteer.

There is a saying that no one is irreplaceable, which is true in some ways, but Anne’s spirit and the spirit of volunteers like her are very much alive at the Arboretum:

• The Native Plant Trail was a dream completed and curated by Ed Miller. He assisted his dear friend Nan Williams as she worked to realize her idea, a Fern Glen that would complement the trail.  Although Ed has passed away, his legacy is being maintained by volunteers – including members of the Miller Family.

• If you’ve come to our members-only “Pick of the Pots” evening, you’ve no doubt enjoyed the efforts of Ann Bevins, who not only caters the event, but also takes a seat as a cashier.  She and her husband Shawn are busy in the early spring in the Greenhouse, and Shawn can also be seen wearing a dayglo vest and directing traffic for parking.

• Morgan McClary joined the Board of Trustees, signed up for the Communications Committee, and straightaway made our Houseplant Swap happen.  She brought along her husband Sam, who has become a key player in our plant sales – and a member of the Communications Committee. Morgan and Sam are members of that rare class of people: those who don’t wait for retirement to make a commitment to volunteering.

• The Book Store at Landis was originally the brain child of Herm Finkbeiner and Merv Pritchard.  It was expanded by Ken and Marion Hotopp.  The Book Store has proven to be a destination for serious bibliophiles under Sue Tricario and her crew of volunteers and in addition to during our spring and fall plant sales, is now open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on the second Saturday of June, July, and August.

• Louise and Gus Polli, our “power couple,“ can be seen frequently staffing the Arboretum’s information table at outreach events throughout the area. Louise mingles with customers at the plant sale floor to promote Arboretum memberships. She is co-chair of the Communications Committee, and serves on the Board of Trustees.  Gus often lends his mechanical skills to keep machinery running and parks cars at Arboretum events. They both staff the Books Store’s Second Saturdays during the summer. (Read more about their Landis outreach in Louise's article "On the Road Again for Landis”.)

• Brand new volunteer Shayne Mitchell came to Landis to see what there was to see and ended up taking on maintenance of our more than 40 bluebird nesting boxes.  He also started the first Bluebird Lottery, based on identifying the first-to-fledge nesting box, and is scheduled to facilitate two bluebird classes this season.

• And this year, office manager Susan Strangia stepped into very big shoes as Volunteer Coordinator after a short time as assistant to Anne Donnelly.  The efficiency and success of the just-completed Spring Plant Sale are evidence of Susan’s skill and dedication.

New faces are aways seen among the veteran volunteers.  Some folks can be counted on to work a shift as a plant waterer, ticket writer, or cashier at plant sales.  Others make sure the trail is well marked for the 5K Forest Run.  Still others serve on the greenhouse crew propagating the “Landis Grown” offerings at the plant sales.  No matter what your interest or skill level, there is a place for you at Landis.

There is one constant that runs through all these efforts: the work is as valuable to the volunteer as it is to the Arboretum. Volunteers discover a natural treasure, meet other like-minded people, and learn something new. That is why we have volunteers who keep coming back, season after season, year after year. And that is the magic of volunteering, a beautiful circle of giving and getting that keeps the spirit of volunteerism alive at Landis.

Anne would be proud of us.

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Summer 2024

Volume 42 , Number 2

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