Thanksgiving… A few weeks early

Thanksgiving at Wellfield always comes a few weeks early when we gather to celebrate our amazing volunteers! On Monday night, staff and volunteers convened at Matterhorn Conference Center to celebrate the past year of volunteer support at Wellfield. Nearly half of Wellfield’s volunteers were in attendance at this annual tradition that recognizes the hours, the years, and the dedication of Wellfield’s most valuable resource – – our Volunteers!

Staff provided warm, thankful remarks. All enjoyed delicious food from Matterhorn Catering. A slideshow of volunteer photos over the years scrolled in the backdrop. Volunteers and staff alike shared in fellowship around tables filled with love and mutual admiration for the tasks accomplished this past year. 

The Volunteer Appreciation Dinner is a time for staff to acknowledge the passion and work accomplished by our treasured volunteers, without whom, Wellfield could not be sustained. Volunteers are active in nearly every aspect of Wellfield operations, from horticulture to guest services and administration to special events, the importance of this incredible human force cannot be overstated.

Jodie Papandrea, Volunteer Coordinator and Guest Services Manager presented special volunteer badges recognizing volunteer service years and hours, as well as prize drawings. But perhaps the most special part of the evening came with the presentation of a NEW award, developed by Wellfield’s Volunteer Committee: the inaugural “Eric Amt Award for Volunteer Dedication and Service”. The award was a surprise, kept secret from its namesake until presented to him near the end of the program. Eric Amt was not only an early champion for the creation of Wellfield Botanic Gardens, but led the steering committee of the Elkhart Rotary Club back in 2002-2004 through its initial concept phase, through fundraising, Master Plan Development, and groundbreaking. Eric was the Garden’s first Executive Director and led both administrative AND building efforts through his retirement in 2013. Even after “retirement”, Eric maintains a steady, vigilant presence at Wellfield, serving as the Chair of the Board’s Building and Grounds Committee and was elected to Wellfield’s Lifetime Trustees in 2015. Without Eric Amt, Wellfield would not be the treasure that is today. The Eric Amt Award for Volunteer Dedication and Service will be awarded annually by the Volunteer Committee at the Volunteer Recognition Dinner each November. Recipients receiving the award will have their name engraved to a plaque that will be mounted in the Visitors Cottage, a permanent reminder of their dedication and service provided to Wellfield Botanic Gardens.

Here’s to those dedicated people who give selflessly of their time, talents, and treasures. Thank you, Volunteers, for making the world a better place through your service to Wellfield! Enjoy a photo slideshow from the event and please note lifetime achievement milestones listed below.

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Lifetime Achievements

Ten Years of Service
Sandy Amt
Paula Barb
Stuart Barb
Kim Clarke
Tom Lilly
Ruth Middleton
Karen Nicholson
Martha Peterson
Cidney Walter

1,000+ Volunteer Hours
Eric Amt
Stuart Barb
Nancy Brock
Kim Clarke
Irene Lawson
Tom Lilly
Terri Rickel

500+ Volunteer Hours
John Alter
Tom Cripe
John Goebel
Monica Klose-Hull
Pat Knight
Marianne Lilly
Steve Pearson
Martha Peterson
Cidney Walter
Emma Wynn


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