Tag Archives: volunteers

Virginia Western Community Arboretum

The Virginia Western Community Arboretum began 24 years ago when the state college allowed use of the property with the understanding that it would be developed and maintained using private donated funds. The grounds have one full-time and one part-time staff member, and they rely on volunteer assistance to accomplish the many tasks that face them throughout the growing season.
“Our volunteer program is vital to us because of our limited budget,” explains Clark BeCraft. “Right now we have twelve regular volunteers who come out weekly and help us in the gardens. We have six tour guide volunteers that help us with groups that come into the Arboretum.”
Tour guide volunteers also help out with children’s tours, and will often provide assistance with activities like a scavenger hunt or a learning activity with the children that is related to nature or gardening. Additionally, the Arboretum hosts horticulture students though a program that allows them to complete a one semester internship there.
The garden helper is one of their most popular volunteer opportunities. Garden helpers visit the Arboretum twice a week during growing season, and work closely with an Arboretum tech, Sarah Isley, to care for the plants.
“There is no specific skill set needed,” adds Clark. “We help you identify weeds and instruct you on how to plant things if that is part of the task for the day. Sarah and I work with [volunteers] to answer any questions they have.”
A majority of the current volunteers are retirement age, but the Arboretum is open to all volunteers ages 16 and up. Although they have a need for volunteers who can work during the week, they are open to setting up times for those who work on weekdays to volunteer on occasional Saturdays or evenings if there is enough interest. Every volunteer is required to complete a background check as they are acting as an agent of the college.
“Our volunteers look forward to coming to the Arboretum to work. For many, it is the highlight of their week. They enjoy working in the gardens because it is for the community, but also an opportunity to come out and fellowship with one another. We look at it as getting work done, but it is also a nice way for our volunteers to spend time together and work in the gardens,” says Clark.
If you’ve ever visited any of their gardens, you know that the community effort results in an unforgettable experience. That effort includes a partnership with the Roanoke Master Gardeners, who have worked with the Virginia Western Community Arboretum since 2008. In 2016, the Arboretum logged over 700 volunteer hours, showing that the volunteer program is an essential part of their success in serving the community. Many of the volunteers are Friends of the Arboretum as well, contributing both time and money to maintaining the location.
You can also support the Arboretum by attending one of their events. They will offer a Garden Tour to the Gardens of Pennsylvania and Delaware featuring Longwood Gardens September 7-9, and host a Fall Accent Plant Sale on September 23 from 10am-1pm.
To learn more about the Virginia Western Community Arboretum, and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.virginiawester.edu/arboretum

Local Women Making A Difference

harvesterteamgirlsThe Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount is more than just a great place to enjoy a concert with your family. It is the result of a dream—shared by many people in Franklin County—to unite a community in support of great music. Each individual contributing to this venue is passionate about its success. Assistant General Manager, Sheila Silverstein, has been instrumental in bringing on new volunteers to assist with operations essential to each performance.

“You can’t find better people than our volunteers. They are my heart,” says Silverstein. “This is a group of people who have passion for their purpose. They make a great team, and they give 110 percent at every show.”

Since its opening in April, more volunteers (both men and women) have joined the initial group. Many of them, like Juanita Dudley, view one another as family. “I am a retired school teacher,” she adds, “and this is my way of giving back to the community. I have met so many great people here.”

Other volunteers, like Nancy Bell, report to their shifts following their full time jobs. Bell, Director of the United Way in Franklin County, has a 30 minute drive at the conclusion of her shift. However, the time spent travelling and volunteering is a sacrifice she is willing to make. She explains, “I began volunteering at the Harvester because I knew that, for it to succeed, those of us who love music would have to be committed to it.”

Donna Winge, volunteer coordinator for the Harvester, agrees, “My husband and I began volunteering at the second show. We knew the importance of making the Harvester a success because of the economic potential it has for the entire county.”

Franklin County residents are not the only ones interested in the variety of entertainment offered at this unique venue. People from surrounding counties and states attend each show, drawn to the spectacular lineup and welcoming atmosphere. The volunteers and staff realize that hospitality is important to making the experience a memorable one for patrons.

“We have a great time here on every shift,” says volunteer, Allison Nunley, “and I love seeing all of the guests enjoy it as much as we do.”

Visit www.harvester-music.com for more information on the talented musicians scheduled to perform this month. Not only will you enjoy a great show, you may find a new favorite spot to visit with your friends and family.

Your Time Could Change a Life

wings6Gleaning for the World is announcing their new women’s program, WINGS. Around the world, women are forced out of their schools, jobs and society because of their monthly cycle. Annually, these women lose months of education and income because they do not have access to feminine hygiene products. It is devastating and abandons so many to violence, exploitation and prostitution.

These desperate women resort to any means available for help. They walk to landfills to get newspapers, dirty rags, corn cobs and even bark. In places where taboos are the worst, some women are forced to sit on dirt mounds or above holes for hours at a time.

This new program is an incredible solution. These kits provide all the supplies women need for their monthly cycle and can last for up to three years. That is an extra nine months of education, income and freedom. What’s more, it helps improve their self-esteem and empowers them to reclaim their future. No longer do they have to hide each month or dig through garbage to find makeshift supplies.

“I have been to some of these communities and met these women,” says WINGS program spokeswoman, Danielle Sarchet. “I have seen the happiness on their faces when they realize what they have, and it moves me to know that the volunteer efforts of women in Virginia will change these women’s lives.”

These kits are assembled by volunteers in Central and Southwest Virginia. Due to the donation of supplies and volunteers, they are produced at far below retail price. Fifteen dollars will produce and ship one kit to a woman in the developing world.

If you would like to volunteer to produce these kits (in part or in whole), contact Danielle Sarchet, WINGS and GFTW Volunteer Coordinator, at Danielle@gftw.org or call (434) 993-3600. For more information on what you can do to help, visit gftw.org/wings.