For 72-year-old Amanda Wade Schmitt, volunteering is in her blood. The Iroquois High School and University of Kentucky College of Education graduate grew up volunteering with her parents around Louisville. She said they led by example the importance of giving your time and talent to help the community.
“Our parents taught my siblings and I that we were fortunate to be people who had what we needed, and it was our responsibility to share and to help others,” says Amanda.
Her mother, Dot Wade, was a true inspiration as one of the original supporters of Botanica, which would later become Waterfront Botanical Gardens (WBG). Dot worked on the creation and development of a community botanical garden for over 30 years. She was able to help choose the architects who developed the WBG master plan and see the chosen site on Frankfort Avenue prior to her passing.
Amanda, her brother Bill Wade, and sister Mary Wade Ayers are all active volunteers at WBG and share their late mother’s commitment to seeing the organization thrive and grow. In 2017 Amanda and Mary won the Dot Wade Volunteer of the Year Award illustrating just how dedicated the family is to WBG.
Amanda officially started volunteering for WBG in 2016 as one of the first members of the newly formed Volunteer Committee.
“I’m really a volunteer at heart. Being retired I have a lot of time now and I want to be involved in the community as long as I can,” she says.
What do you do as a WBG volunteer?
I was in the first group of volunteers trained to be a Garden Guide. Our job is to greet visitors as they enter the Gardens. We are available to answer questions, provide directions, and help with any other needs.
I’ve also helped with adult education classes and am a Youth Education volunteer, helping with school field trips, scout groups, and other tours for children. I love being with children as they explore the Gardens!
In what way do you think your efforts have impacted the community?
WBG has given the community something unique: a garden in the heart of the city. It’s a lovely place to just be in nature and learn about plants and how important plant life is to the Earth. Plus, it’s free to visitors!
What advice would you give other seniors interested in volunteering?
There are so many places that need hands to do meaningful tasks. Just find something that you enjoy or want to learn about. Volunteering keeps you involved. You don’t think about yourself and your problems (large or small) as much when you’re doing for others. It’s hard to be lonely when you’re involved with a group of volunteers.
By Kym Voorhees Raque | Photo by Patti Hartog