by Dennis Dalman
Bonnie Schraut and Jessie Kovall have tried to resign 10 times in the last 10 years, but it’s as if other people (or some mysterious fate) won’t let them.
This spring, however, they are going to resign hell or high water – no ifs, ands or buts about it.
Both are the only two officers in the Sartell Volunteer Garden Club. Kovall is chair and Schraut is secretary/treasurer.
The two women are not resigning from the club – only from their officer positions. They’ve both decided it’s time for some new “blood” and new, fresh ideas from other people willing to serve as chair and secretary/treasurer. They are, however, willing to help new officers transition into the jobs.
“It’s time for some new blood,” Schraut said. “I wouldn’t say I’m burned out. It’s just there is a need for some new energy. I’m very busy. I do other volunteer work and have seven grandchildren.”
Kovall, who has also been very busy, wants to quit her duties as chair, as much as she has loved serving the Sartell Garden Club for so many years – a task she will continue.
Every year for the past 10 years, both women would announce they were not interested in keeping their positions in the club, but each time they felt compelled to continue because nobody else wanted to take over those positions, apparently.
The duties of those two positions involve some planning, organizing, keeping books and leading occasional meetings. Years ago, the club would meet usually about once a month, but in recent years the meetings have been more sporadic.
The heart and soul of the Sartell Volunteer Garden Club is its volunteers, who number about 50. They include individuals, families and even organizations like the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The volunteers generally can choose their own projects. Most of them clean out debris from decorative gardens in the spring – a wide variety of gardens that can include shrubs, perennials, annuals or any combination of those. In some cases, in gardens that need annuals, the volunteers plant them in spring. Throughout the summer, the volunteers make return trips to the garden beds to check on them, to weed them if needed and to make sure they receive water, especially in dry spells. In many cases, when the gardens are greenery, shrubs and perennials, volunteers don’t have to expend much effort as normal rains are enough to keep them looking ship-shape.
The garden club plants and tends 65 gardens, many of them in the city’s 40 various parks, large and small.
Volunteers clean, plant and tend dozens of landscaped plots in Sartell, from very simple (such as street-median planters) to roadside flower patches, from big parks like Sartell Lions Community Park to smaller parks with their several flower beds, such as Veterans Park along Riverside Avenue.
It’s Veterans Park Kovall and Schraut are most concerned about these days. Each year, the garden club tries to have the park planted and spruced up for the May Memorial Day celebration (May 27 this year). But because of the very late spring, volunteers will have to hustle to get Veterans Park’s gardens planted and thriving in time for the ceremony.
Although the club has been fortunate by having dedicated volunteers, Schraut said she’s hoping more organizations will get involved and perhaps “adopt” a garden bed, the way some organizations and companies “adopt” a highway. Volunteer employees, as a community-service project, would be an ideal way to maintain and improve garden plots throughout the city.
The work of the garden club has brought widespread praise by residents and visitors, who have remarked about the beauty of Sartell, thanks largely to the work of the club’s volunteers.
Kovall and Schraut are optimistic that kind of volunteerism and city beautification will continue. But in the meantime, they are both hoping two people step up to the plate to fill the positions they are vacating.
Anyone interested in becoming either chair or secretary/treasurer of the Sartell Volunteer Club should call Kovall at 320-203-0124 or Schraut at 320-251-5300.