#Sunday Stills: Volunteering

Volunteering is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labor for community service. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others serve on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a natural disaster.

Wikipedia – Volunteering
Sunday Stills Logo
Sunday Stills Logo

When Terri and I talked about topics for guest hosting Sunday Stills for two weeks, cats and volunteering stood out as ones to which I could relate. Thank you Terri for trusting me with your wonderful challenge.

Volunteering

We have been blessed by the huge number of health workers who have dedicated their time in giving COVID 19 shots all over the country.

“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” 

Sherry Anderson

People generously volunteer to help in recent tragedies, weather crises, animal over population, reading and math tutors, museum docents, food service preparation serving and clean-up, road and park clean-up, and even blogging volunteers can serve the global community. In every facet of today’s society there is room for volunteers.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

What organizations, projects, or calls for help have you responded to?

Next week Terri will be back at the helm after having no internet during her move. We are all anxious to know how she is doing and how her new home looks. This week, I hope you will tell us how you are doing and what you do for others. Here is my story.

Volunteering in Woodlake, CA

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” 

Audrey Hepburn

When I retired I joined Woodlake Kiwanis and the Woodlake Chamber of Commerce. I stayed in Kiwanis for the long haul and felt that I could make a greater positive impact on the community as part of a like-minded group than on my own. Kiwanis operates for the good of children and the community and fit my goals in life. I am still a distance member.

Kiwanis and Rotary 3rd Grade Dictionary Project

Kiwanis had several signature projects but they also collaborate with other organizations and our regional division to support the community. Our two biggest projects during COVID was to care for the Woodlake Rose Garden and to help the Woodlake Food Pantry distribute food.

pink roses
Woodlake Rose Garden

Roses take about 90 hours of care per bush to keep them healthy. The Woodlake Rose garden has over 1,500 bushes. The City of Woodlake has 7,000 people, several parks, and about 31 employees in total including the City Manager, Fire Chief and Police Chief. Having a manicured rose garden was not high on any employee’s list of priorities.

One of our Kiwanians masterminded the volunteer care of the garden. It was brilliant. After hearing him speak, about six organizations volunteered with us to assist the City of Woodlake. Especially active, are the Master Gardeners, from who we learned so much about rose care.

Sunday Stills Volunteering Kiwanis Food Pantry
Woodlake Food Pantry

Even though Kiwanis didn’t run the food pantry many of our members played a huge role in its success. Kiwanis in Woodlake always has projects that require students to help. The organization believes that community service develops their character and resume. Students always had a first-hand glimpse at life.

Keeping Busy and Young All Year Long

The galleries below show some of our many of our activities past and present.

Kiwanis eventually abandoned the Soap Box Derby because of lack of participation, due to after school sports programs. Kiwanis then joined forces with the City of Woodlake to provide different kinds of after-school support for kids.

Other organizations sometimes hired our catering services which gave us funds for scholarships and enabled Kiwanis to provide services and events like our July 3rd Blast at no cost to the public.

Thanks to everyone who joined Sunday Stills: Respect the Cat

Forgive me if I missed your post. It’s probably best to post a link in the comment section as well. Pingbacks are not always reliable. Thanks again for joining in Sunday Stills while Terri’s been gone. 🙂

In the Garden: Labor of Love

Thank you to all who have labored over the years. We stand on your shoulders and labor to help the next generations have a better world.

#Lens-Artist Challenge #113

#Sunday Stills: Orange

Woodlake Rose Garden began in 2004 as a labor of love, a gift from Manuel Jimenez, a local resident and Professor Emeritus at UC Davis, small farm advisor for the Southern Valley.

Manuel credits the garden to his wife, Olga for her love of roses. I picked a particularly lovely rose from the garden for Hugh and his Sunday Stills challenge of “orange.” This post is not colored orange, but see how many orange items you can spot.

As it grew, Woodlake Pride, a local nonprofit organization maintained the garden with the help of volunteers, mostly students.

When Manuel stepped back to focus on the Botanical Garden, three years ago, the rose garden fell into a state of disrepair. Kiwanis of Woodlake stepped in to fill in the gap between what the City of Woodlake could manage, and what needed to be done to bring the gardens back.

As a Kiwanian, I think that the pride in helping our small town stay beautiful is the primary benefit of this labor of love. We also benefit from meeting the many people who come to the gardens to enjoy a gentle walk. I also enjoy giving back in a small way to Manuel and Olga Jimenez.

Kiwanis enlisted some other non-profits to help out. Until COVID 19, the Master Gardeners of Tulare County maintained the largest portion of the garden. UC Davis restricted them from working in any garden anywhere because of the pandemic so they have just begun to work in the garden again. The weeds and work multiplied tenfold while they were gone. We are super glad they are back.

There’s at lease one orange item here.

Above and Beyond

One Kiwanian stands out above and beyond the rest. Sally Pace spearheads the labor of love for the Kiwanis Club of Woodlake. A weekly walk determines the focus of the work. During midweek visits she provides the approved chemicals and sprays the weeds so that no one will get blasted with unwanted herbicide except her.

You’ll have to work hard to see the orange in this picture.

During official workdays, she digs out stubborn weeds choking the roses, deadheads, and makes her husband deliver mulch from their property to spread around the roses. She coordinates sprinkler repairs, donating little parts from her surplus stash at home, purchasing the bigger ones needed to repair the endless water leaks and recruiting volunteers to help her.

The trash that people throw in the garden, turn me orange with anger.

Need student help? No worries, Sally visits the Ag teachers at Woodlake High School to enlist their help identifying great students who need to earn community service hours in order to graduate. Early on the designated Saturday mornings Sally meets them and any Kiwanians who happen to come to help at the garden with snacks and a truck-load of equipment.

Watch out, Dennis. Hold on to your orange hat.

Supervising the students? Not really. She designates them to other Kiwanians. They just hope and pray they don’t get assigned to the man with the chainsaw. No one can keep up with her as she tackles whatever seems the most urgent problem of the day. You have to catch her to photograph her.

Then she sends out an email telling how hard everyone else worked and how fabulous they all are. I’m not sure how she benefits from her labor of love, but she labors tirelessly.

Heroes with No Vested Interest

Another set of unsung heroes are the folks like the ones in this picture who came from nearby Visalia to walk around the lake and saw us working. They have no vested interest other than they love the gardens. The next time they came to walk they brought pruners, and started deadheading roses. Another couple has come from Three Rivers several times to weed and patch vital water lines.

A local police officer dropped by when I was working with two students weeding, and stepped in to lend a hand. Local residents see a Facebook post and bring their rakes and their friends and come to the garden. Denise gets more done in an hour than most people do in ten.

Even the park bench sitters pick up a shovel, rake and hoe when we come near their benches rather than to sit and watch us work.

Here’s to happy Labor Day festivities to you, however you choose to spend them. If you come to Woodlake, might we suggest some labor of love ideas?

Bit Moji wink

Thanks for hosting the Lens-Artists Challenge #113, Rusha.

Thanks to Hugh Roberts for hosting #Sunday Stills – Orange.

Related Posts

Call for Challengers

If you host a challenge, writing or photography, please contact me. I would love to interview you and share the “behind the scenes” story about your challenge.

Always Write Adopts a Section of the Woodlake Rose Garden

What are you doing with your business, church group, or your non-profit group? Have you considered gardening in a public garden?

The City of Woodlake has way more work than they can handle caring for the fourteen acres that is Woodlake Botanical Gardens. The founders, Manuel and Olga Jimenez and their non-profit, Woodlake Pride Coalition, manage all but the three acres designated as Woodlake Rose Garden. That Garden is divided into small sections and several groups have reached out to support it.

This little neglected area is about a third of the way along the Garden path. I probably should have counted the number of roses before I volunteered to adopt it, but I’m impetuous. With some community help, I think it’s doable.

There are probably about fifty roses on the property, several pomegranate trees and about 20 Rose of Sharon bushes and several clumps of overgrown Pampas grass. The tree front and center is a mystery to me.

Woodlake Rose Garden Floribundas
“Adopt us,” cried the roses as Chuck and I walked over to check out the Master Gardener’s well-groomed rose bushes.

What prompted me to adopt the garden is that it’s time to prune roses in CA. This is as cold as it gets, and you can still see roses in bloom on the bushes.

The Master Gardeners lead the way with their work in the Floribundas. Last year they held a training workshop at the Garden, and we have another one scheduled on January 25 from 11:00 – 2:00. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to make your roses gorgeous.

Pruned roses examples
Model section ready for the January 25th pruning workshop at the Woodlake Rose Garden.

The pruned roses looked so good I blurted out that I thought I could take care of one section. After I announced my decision on the internet, I told Mr. Write, AKA Vince, about my project.

“There’s an adorable cove that I did not even know existed in my new section. I bet you could create something really beautiful there.”

An almost secret garden in the middle of the Woodlake Rose Garden unadopted section.

Vince loved it and quickly came up with several ideas of what he might do with it. Meanwhile, I got started turning my new section into a Master Gardener amateur masterpiece.

My bucket is so handy to carry all my tools: loppers and clippers are essential but the knee pad allows me to work for two hours instead of three minutes. You can see my long-armed leather-like gloves peeking out of the bucket. Don’t even try to prune these thorny critters without them.

I advertised on Facebook for community members to help the day before, but that was pretty short notice. However, the Garden has its own regulars.

The first person I saw was Jose. He offered to help so I gave him the loppers. He can’t see well, but that didn’t stop him. He chopped the roses down to a manageable level. Then I dug them out a little farther. Leaves, old branch trimming, and cockroaches filled the center of the plant, so I cleaned them out with a trowel as I clipped the smaller branches.

One garden regular said, “Put your hair up in a ponytail, then it won’t get in your face.” Duh! Good advice – dress for success.

My friend Sally raked the unwieldy branches into piles so they wouldn’t trip walkers after she finished working in other parts of the garden.

Instead of the three or four rose bushes I might have been able to prune on my own, we pruned fourteen roses, and I even found an old label telling us what they are.

Coral Meidiland Floribunda rose
Coral Meidiland introduced in France in 1993 by hybridizer, Alaine Meidiland, it is a Floribunda shrub with lots of thorns. I can vouch for the thorns. It is shade tolerant and disease resistant. Good choice, Manuel!

Last year the Master Gardeners hosted a pruning class in the Garden. That information came in handy. It takes me a while to make the decisions as to which branches to prune, but the basic idea is to think of the rose as a bowl and clear out anything that points inward. They also say to prune off little branches and anything that is crossing.

Woodlake Rose Garden regular, Victor
My neighbor showed me how to add his name to his picture on my phone.

Meanwhile, a friend of Jose’s named Victor came up and said he couldn’t help but would love to help the next time I come. He pruned a Rose of Sharon tree and several rose bushes before he left an hour or so later. Working in the Garden is addictive!

Pruned roses
You can barely see the Rose of Sharon trees in the upper left of the picture.

On Sunday afternoon I returned and three people dropped by to say hi as I worked.

If you have a business, church, or a non-profit, this is a great way to get out of your own circle of acquaintances and make some new friends. Today I chatted with Jose, prayed with a woman on a motorized scooter, and chatted with a police officer who offered to help during my next workday, which is February 22.

pruned roses
The sign says, “Unadopted.” That’s changing to Always Write.”

If you live in Woodlake or nearby you might be interested in caring for this garden which has been dubbed a Tulare County Treasure. Let me know if you are interested in adopting a section of the Woodlake Rose Garden and I’ll get you connected.

Or you can just drop by and help me in my Always Write newly adopted section.

Always Write logo

Woodlake Kiwanis and Partners to Assist in the Woodlake Rose Garden

Do You Love the Woodlake Rose Garden?

Yes, the roses are still beautiful. They need our love and care to get them back to their best.

Kiwanis Seeks Partner Organizations

This bush had lost its shape with wild branches growing out of the rose bush.

 People come from all over the world to enjoy the National Park. Right on the way is one of the largest rose gardens in the state of California. Formerly part of the Woodlake Botanical Gardens, the Rose Gardens have fallen on hard times.

The City is not able to care for the 2,000 + plants in this part of the Botanical Garden with the personnel and time they have to spend on the gardens. Rather than giving up on this California Treasure, Kiwanian and rose expert, Chuck House, makes plans to put his knowledge of and love for roses to great use in the Woodlake Rose Garden.

Rose after the October 27 Kiwanis One Day pruning and weeding

 On October 27, twenty-seven Kiwanians and youth from Builders and Key Clubs cleared weeds and trimmed most of the roses bordering the parking lot.  What Chuck hopes is that, like Kiwanis, other organizations and their student and neighboring club volunteers will choose an area in the garden to work in about one day per month.

Woodlake and Tulare County can buff this garden back to perfection. In only three hours a month using 10-50 adult and teen workers, interested groups can make a measurable difference in our City and County’s Treasure started by Woodlake Pride and Manuel and Olga Jimenez.

Chuck House Has Subdivided the Garden to Manage Its Care

Chuck’s plan is to subdivide the garden into workable sections and ask organizations or individuals to take one small section and maintain it. He has made a detailed chart of the sections and counted the plants, both dead and alive.  Organizations, businesses, or individuals can schedule Chuck to come and explain the plan to their group. Kiwanians have chosen to care for Section A, the area around the parking lot. (above)

In the section above, Chuck started pruning the rose bushes. Cutting back the wild growth, stimulates the plant to produce more flowers.

The City gardeners, one or two people, usually only get about one day per month to work in the garden. It took twenty-seven Kiwanians and friends aged middle school to 77, three hours to weed half the parking lot area on October 27. The new plan for community service encourages each group to bring in volunteers at least one day per month. 

Much better after weeding and pruning on October 27.

Kiwanis has scheduled a workday on Saturday, November 17 from 8:00 – 11:00 am to finish weeding from the east end of the parking lot to the gate. This will be our regularly maintained area. We welcome your help with this.  For those who like to bring your own equipment, you might want gloves, arm protectors, and your choice of loppers, clippers, shovels, rakes, and hoes. The City will provide a few shovels, rakes, and hoes if you forget.

Is it worth it to have our roses back? Picture taken November 12, 2018.

To Sign Up to Help

Please call me, Marsha Ingrao, if you can help us on Saturday. 559-303-9241. Or sign up on our Facebook Page @WoodlakeKiwanis1. We will have snacks and water available. 

Rose Societies in California

According to the Northern California/Nevada/Hawaii District, “There are twenty-five rose societies make up the Northern California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the American Rose Society.” They have over 2100 members, almost 200 Consulting Rosarians, 11 Rose Arrangement Judges and 64 Horticulture Judges. The Northern California-Nevada-Hawaii District is a Benefactor Patron of the American Rose Society.

Here are a few rose society websites in CA. Does Woodlake need a Rose Society?

Are you interested in preserving Woodlake’s roses?

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How to Transform a Weedy Dam Levee into a Unique Garden Even If You Only Have a Dream

Read the first Woodlake Pride Brochure for the new Woodlake Botanical Gardens. Coming next week, the city shares its plans to clean up the weeds and continue the gardens.

Woodlake Botanical Gardens

The Bravo Lake Dream

I'm going to catch a fish here any minute. Get the barby ready!The inspiration to transform an abandoned railroad right-of-way and a weedy dam levee into a beautiful and unique garden facility began more than twenty years ago.

Olga and Manuel Jimenez organized a company of youth volunteers into a group called Woodlake Pride. The impetus was to create an environment for youth that builds self-esteem, confidence, and respect for others while uplifting community moral.

This was done through gardening and beautification projects in various locations around the city of Woodlake. Most see the Woodlake Botanical Gardens (WBG) as the pinnacle of success of Woodlake Pride. The reality is that Olga and Manuel have been growing the youth of Woodlake for nearly thirty years. One can be assured that the community has benefitted and will continue to benefit from the character and citizenship instilled in the hundreds of youth. These young people and the organizers have unselfishly…

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