STAMFORD, Conn. — For Peter Saverine, executive director of the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens in Stamford, volunteers have symbiotic relationships with the Bartlett.
“We rely on our donor and volunteer base to perform the duties and provide the programs to the families,” he said, describing the many projects volunteers make possible throughout the year.
Volunteers come as individuals and groups to help with everything from clearing brush and invasives to building picnic tables and painting, Saverine said.
“They come here and get a little dirty,” he said. “They find it very rewarding, and we get a project done that would not have gotten done otherwise.”
Giving an example, Saverine said PricewaterhouseCoopers contributed funding for picnic tables and benches. And when Terex Corp. sent a team of 25 employees on a rainy day, they completed the task of putting the tables and benches together.
By the end of the day, the volunteers were enjoying the fruit of their labor by having lunch on their own handiwork. Visitors regularly ask why they waited so long to have the tables, Saverine said.
The Bartlett is also working to establish a youth volunteer corps. The Westhill High School agricultural program, Trinity Catholic and King School all send volunteers to the center.
Volunteers were recently thanked at a luncheon. "I have a deep appreciation of these volunteers," Saverine said. "We cannot do it without them." Now, he is looking toward projects for the coming year.
“We are creating win-win situations,” he said. Saverine pointed to Pepsi, which helped to bring 125 inner-city kids to the Bartlett. “A whole day was coordinated for them,” he said. “They had a hands-on experience.”
For some of these kids, the Bartlett is a totally new experience, Saverine said. The 91 acres and 10 trails are different from their day-to-day lives in the city. The new silver educational center provides many programs to children throughout the year, he said.
“It is my dream to add a conservatory greenhouse down the road,” Saverine said. “I really believe we can be the centerpiece in Stamford."