Volunteers find fun and purpose at Reiman Gardens

Allison Anderson and Kim Hope with volunteers Kathy Wiederin, Betty Sailsbury, Jody Melcher

By Andrew Gogerty

When Kathy Wiederin retired from her full-time career, she vowed to never stuff another envelope or do another mass mailing as long as she lived. According to her, Kathy had done enough of those “to last six lifetimes.” Now, Kathy and two other faithful volunteers (Jody Melcher and Betty Sailsbury) stroll into Reiman Gardens once a month to help with the one thing she promised to never do again: stuff envelopes for mass mailings.

“It just turned out that I missed people,” said Kathy. “Reiman Gardens is such a huge asset to the community. I’ve done a few other volunteer efforts elsewhere, and this one stuck because of the comradery, the conversations, and the laughs.”

Well, those, and the cake.

“We got free cake one time, and we just assumed it would always be that way,” joked Betty Salisbury, a retired nurse who began volunteering in 2003 when Reiman Gardens only had a handful of volunteers.

“I enjoy the people—the employees and all the volunteers,” said Betty. “It’s a happy place.”

The trio has been stuffing envelopes for mailings on a volunteer basis for several years. It’s a tedious process—one that Membership Director Allison Anderson is thankful to have some help with.

“Without those three, I don’t know where I would begin assembling these mailings,” said Allison. “They are always here, always dedicated, and always flexible. I’m so appreciative of all they do for the membership program. They always do such an amazing job.”

Jody Melcher began volunteering in 2007 while she was still employed as a full-time teacher. She volunteered on Saturdays in the Children’s Garden because it had a train at that time, and she loves trains. She’s been an avid volunteer at Reiman Gardens ever since, helping in many areas and events. Volunteering is part of her DNA. She enjoys the comradery with the other volunteers as well, but also appreciates the new ideas she sees firsthand that she can incorporate into her own garden. It’s a fringe benefit.

“Jodi volunteers here for everything,” said Kathy. “And if she’s not here, she’s volunteering somewhere else.”

Volunteers at Reiman Gardens enjoy each other's company, the laughs, being a key part of the behind-the-scenes personnel at large events like Spirits in the Gardens and Winter Wonderscape, and the opportunity to experience Reiman Gardens for the oasis that it is.

“My favorite thing about Reiman Gardens is that it’s a peaceful sanctuary,” said Kathy. “We all really need that. When I was still working, a friend and I would sometimes pack our brown bags and come out here for lunch just to be outdoors and enjoy the fresh air and the beauty of Reiman Gardens.”

When asked what they would tell someone who was considering volunteering at Reiman Gardens, they all agreed with their answer: “Give it a try,” the trio said. “There are so many different opportunities and varieties of things to do, inevitably there will be something you enjoy doing.”

(Reiman Gardens wishes to thank all its volunteers who make our mission possible. In 2022, a core group of nearly 300 volunteers donated 15,718 hours of their time to garden work, produce collecting through the Plant A Row program, assisting in the Butterfly Wing, helping with educational events, and helping to lead group tours, among other tasks. To find out more about all of the volunteer opportunities at Reiman Gardens, visit reimangardens.com/volunteers.)

“It just turned out that I missed people. Reiman Gardens is such a huge asset to the community. I’ve done a few other volunteer efforts elsewhere, and this one stuck because of the comradery, the conversations, and the laughs.”

Kathy Wiederin, volunteer at Reiman Gardens