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Volunteer of the Month – Sarah Games

June 2016 Volunteer of the Month: Sarah Games

Many Highlands community gardeners and neighbors have noticed the community garden shed is sporting a fabulous new look: barn yard red with bright white trim!  The idea for the update wasn’t mine. In fact, it wasn’t anyone’s idea until some hooligan decided to apply their “artistic touch” to several community structures, including our shed.

VOM vista shed before

Vandals defaced the community garden shed at Vista Gardens

Most often when I see a problem in the community I assume it’s the community’s problem to fix. But when the shed was defaced I took it personally. As a 5th year gardener and former garden committee member in the IH gardens, I’ve enjoyed years of experimenting and cultivating a sense of “green” pride and ownership. I was angry and frustrated when the shed was vandalized, but these feelings weren’t without meaning: I was angry because I was invested. I valued the gardens and those feelings moved me to action. I thought, “Give me a can of paint… I can fix this!”

And I did.

Although the IHCA and Highlands Council employees are wonderful, highly skilled professionals to keep our community’s infrastructure and grounds attractive and well kept, there are opportunities for residents to contribute in keeping our community a place we’re proud to call home. While none of us are going to get on a cherry picker and string holiday lights on the big tree in Village Green, we can pick up the Lladro cups littering the path around the Sunset Walk pond. Dog owners can clean up not only their dogs’ poop, but graciously pick up what the neighbor’s dog left (and then be sure to let your neighbor know about it!).

VOM vista shed after

Sarah’s swift response: volunteer to paint the shed barn yard red

It’s a shame that any of us have to deal with others’ willful irresponsibility or malice, but a swift response -sometimes our own response- swiftly disposes feelings of negativity. In the week it took to paint the shed I had several community members assist me and even more give words of gratitude and encouragement. I can’t think of many feelings better than being appreciated, but even if nobody said anything about the shed, its new, improved look has made for a very enjoyable gardening season.

Sarah Games is a resident of Ashland Park community and a professional pet caregiver in the Highlands. In addition community gardening, Sarah likes to practice yoga at Pure8 Yoga Center and spend time with her husband, Alex, and two sons, Artie and Nicolas.