National Volunteer Week – Recognizing Meijer Gardens Volunteer Paul Brower

Frederik Meijer Gardens has more than 800 volunteers who dedicate years of service and smiles to support its mission of bringing horticulture and art together for all to enjoy. April 15-21 marks National Volunteer Week, and we want to recognize a few of our outstanding volunteers who continue to make a lasting impact on staff, fellow volunteers and guests.

Here is Paul Brower’s story:

You wouldn’t know it after talking to him, but Paul Brower will be 82-years-young this month.

Paul in the Butterfly Airlock during a busy butterfly day.

Going on his seventh year as a volunteer with Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Paul is as active as ever. You can usually find him helping with outdoor horticulture in the summer, setting up Christmas trees during the winter months and as an Airlock Volunteer during Butterflies Are Blooming.

Maybe it’s from being a CFO for 30 years or fishing on the lake near his home that’s kept Paul so active over the years, but because of his positive attitude and gun-ho personality, Paul’s daughter suggested he volunteer at Meijer Gardens in January 2006.

“Volunteering is a wonderful outlet for me. When you volunteer here, you work with and get to know some quality people.”

Paul has made great friends with some his fellow volunteers, who jokingly call each other the “A-team.”  His volunteering even goes as far as bringing in special treats once a month to share with his volunteer friends.

“My favorite memories volunteering were made because of my peers and the staff. I’m not just another volunteer to them; they keep wanting me to come back each week. You know it’s special when people in such a big organization remember your name.”

National Volunteer Week – Recognizing Meijer Gardens Volunteer Lee Hicks

Frederik Meijer Gardens has more than 800 volunteers who dedicate years of service and smiles to support its mission of bringing horticulture and art together for all to enjoy. April 15-21 marks National Volunteer Week, and we want to recognize a few of our outstanding volunteers who continue to make a lasting impact on staff, fellow volunteers and guests.

Here is Lee Hick’s story:

It’s quickly apparent when you meet Lee Hicks that you’ll leave with a hug and a huge smile on your face.

A Gift Shop volunteer since January 2004, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park was always her first choice as a place to volunteer since her and her husband were frequent visitors before their retirement.

“It was a place that we could both enjoy. I’d take long walks around the Sculpture Park and he’d sit out on the back patio and enjoy the sun.”

Lee showing us new items in the Gift Shop's storage space.

On Wednesday and Friday afternoons, you can find Lee in the Gift Shop, talking with customers and keeping up with the hustle and bustle during Butterflies Are Blooming. She had never done retail before she started volunteering, but wanted to spend her time in a more social, fast-paced environment like the Gift Shop.“You meet so many great people in front and behind the counter. It was the best spot to be busy while getting to know so many new people every day.”

While volunteering during the Chihuly Exhibition in 2010, Lee was able to see the installation process, from start to finish. Seeing how each piece was placed was “mind blowing” and as interesting as seeing the finished sculpture Lee said.If you’re in the Gift Shop, look for her favorite pieces of merchandise — the Flambeaux Pottery that lines the glass shelves. And look for Lee; you can’t miss her.

She’ll be the one at the counter with the huge smile on her face, sparking up a conversation about your life, visit to Meijer Gardens and everything in between.