President's Speech

VickieMadam President, members, ladies and gentlemen, thank you.  I’m not quite sure how this happened, but I am honored and humbled to serve as your President for the next two years.  I know we’ve all had a very long day, so I’m going to keep this short.

The theme that I have chosen for my term is “Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places.”  I’m actually practicing my recycling skills because this is the same theme that I used when I first became my club’s president many years ago.  Even then, I’m pretty sure I “borrowed” it off a license plate that I spotted on a road trip.  I believed then, and I still believe, that the best, first step for a healthy club is a happy club.  I am ever mindful that we are all volunteers here and I think that for many of us, Garden Club is less about Hogarth Curves and more about family.  In fact, at one of the District Meetings that I attended last fall, a club president began her report with a statement very similar to “I hate gardening, I hate flower arranging but, I love Garden Club.”  I’m certainly not quoting exactly and I believe that there might have been a few more “hates” in there, but you get the idea.  Are gardening, public beautification, arranging and the million other things our clubs do important?  Absolutely!  But, it is also important that we do those things together, as a team, with smiles on our faces, working to create even more beautiful places and, hopefully, inspiring others to want to join us.

We have a big change in WVGC this year.  For the first time, we will have two gentlemen on our Board of Directors.  My husband, David, will serve as the Executive Secretary and Mr. George Hines will be our Civic Development and Litter Control Chairman.  George actually founded one of our newest clubs, New Cumberland Garden Club, in the Old Trails District. I know that several of our clubs now have men members.   I think it’s wonderful and should be encouraged.  Our world has changed and we have to change with it.  This is most definitely not our mothers’ garden club anymore.

I have decided to offer five Presidential Awards for my term and I believe they all support my theme and those of our SAR Director and NGC President.  All of the awards will $50 with one exception.

The first one is “Stop Throwing and Start Stowing.”  This award is for the most outstanding project on litter prevention, reclamation and/or recycling.  Appropriate projects for this award could include anything from establishing a composting site to turning a discarded item into something new and beautiful.

The second award that I would like to offer is “Roadside Beautification.”  This award is for the most outstanding roadside improvement project.  Any improvement could qualify; cleaning up a roadside mess or planting wildflowers.  Use your imagination.

The third award offered is the “Go Green Container Garden Award.”  This award is for a project featuring an outstanding container garden that enhances a public space.  The completed container garden must be at least 3 feet tall and utilize only mixed greens, grasses or green flowers.

The fourth award supports our National President’s theme “Plant America” and is entitled “Plant it Together.”  This award will go to the club having the most outstanding “Plant it Together” project.  All projects must involve partnering with another non-garden club group in your community.  These endeavors could include any projects designed to spark an interest in gardening and garden clubs in your community.

Finally, the fifth, and possibly the most important, Presidential Award will go to the club or Council that organizes a new Federated Youth Club with a least eight members.  This award will be in the amount of $100 because without youth involvement, West Virginia Garden Club will be no more.  Schools are a great place to start, but don’t forget churches, scout troops and libraries.  Home Schoolers spend a lot of time in libraries and a Youth Garden Club would be a perfect fit for that program.

The fund raising project that I have chosen is car cupholder coasters.  Try saying that three times.  They will be sold for $10 a pair and, who knows, maybe they will even help your car become a more beautiful place.  Our Ways & Means Chairman, Ann Ebersole, will have them available tomorrow morning.  In advance, I thank you for your support.

In conclusion, look around you.  Look at what is happening to our clubs.  Many of them are aging out.  As John Adams once said “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  The facts and evidence are in our decreasing numbers.  Today we welcomed our newest club, High Lawn.  Maybe if we keep smiles on our faces and showcase the many beautiful places that we create for our communities, we can recruit some new, younger members for more clubs.  Just think what a sad place West Virginia would be without all of the wonderful gardens and projects that we heard about at the meeting this morning.  West Virginia needs Garden Clubs, our communities need Garden Clubs and we, those of us in this room, need Garden Clubs.  Let’s get to work, put on those smiling faces and create even more beautiful places in this already beautiful, wild and wonderful state of ours.  Thank you.