Karl Lazar, a spry 77-year-old retiree, volunteers at Summit's Reeves-Reed Arboretum because, "I like to keep busy. This is my 'play time'. If someone else can benefit from it, I'm all for it." As to whether someone else benefits from it, Arboretum horticulturalist Shari Edelson says simply, "He's indispensable." Trained in various forms of engineering, though school and practical experience as a Navy submariner, Karl spent most of his working life as a salesman, and is happy to get back to working with his hands. During the time he has volunteered as a handyman, he has completely reorganized the Arboretum's barn, both upstairs and down. He designed and built shelving and specialized caddy areas that hold everything safely and leave equipment visible and easily accessible. And, no...he won't come and do the same for your garage.
Karl enjoys volunteering at the Arboretum because he can work whenever suits him, and his tasks make good use of his organizational and problem-solving skills. "The Arboretum people know what they want, they give me a list, and I figure out how to get it done." And there is no beating the location; the Arboretum is 13.5 acres of outdoor majesty...all of which needs tending.
If working outdoors in a beautiful location with good company, and learning and contributing to your community appeal to you, think about joining the Arboretum volunteer team. You might start by joining the "Second Saturday" volunteer sessions. From 9 AM-12 PM on the second Saturday of each month, the Arboretum welcomes volunteers ages 12+ to help tackle a wide variety of seasonal projects, from tree planting to garden mulching to woodland trail maintenance. No prior expertise or knowledge is necessary.
Can't make it on those Saturdays? No problem. There is a wide range of volunteer opportunities at the Arboretum. With many acres to maintain (and only two full-time staff members dedicated to that task), and programs and events to run, the Arboretum can use volunteers at different times and on different projects. If you want to work in the gardens, help out in the office, work with children, help with maintenance and repair, lead tours, or be available for special events, the Arboretum staff will find a place and time that suits the Arboretum's needs and your availability. The staff will provide any training that is needed.
The Arboretum also welcomes corporate, scout, and school groups for single or multiple volunteer sessions, and the staff is happy to discuss what opportunities would meet each group’s interests and scheduling needs. For older children with Eagle Scout or community service requirements to meet, individual or Second Saturday projects are a great match.
So follow Karl's example--volunteer in the great outdoors at the Arboretum. It's good for your mind and body as well as your community.
By Beth Lovejoy, on behalf of the Summit Environmental Commission