Our City is a more welcoming place because of volunteers that work with different divisions and facilities, whether it be our parks, Monona Terrace, libraries or many others. Olbrich Gardens is special though - it has many more volunteers than staff and our beautiful facility would not be the incredible location it is without them. Just as plants are bursting with color and texture while reaching for the sun at Olbrich, visitors are also multiplying, this summer excited to explore their public garden.

Olbrich Gardens in bloom.

Interest in volunteering at Olbrich also “came alive” this spring and summer. After more than a year of patient quarantine, people are ready to re-engage and make up for hibernating last year. Yet, Olbrich isn’t yet ready to host full volunteer crews. Staff are adjusting volunteer duties, schedules, and locations to accommodate our public health protocol. The gradual return for onsite volunteers reflects an important staff perspective: volunteers are Olbrich family. Providing them with both a satisfying experience and a safe working environment is our goal.

Many volunteers have returned, both indoors and outdoors, working as greeters, educators, docents and assisting with maintenance and other tasks. Outdoor special events this summer would not have been possible without volunteers either.

So far in 2021, even with the COVID-19 safety protocols in place, Olbrich volunteers have given about 7,000 service hours, partnering with staff to make a memorable experience for all.

After 15 months of COVID challenges, Olbrich declared it was time to celebrate volunteers who have continued to support, visit, and enjoy the gardens—even those volunteers who are not yet back volunteering.

All Olbrich 2020-2021 volunteers were invited to a Volunteer Celebration this week complete with an all facility open house and ice cream from Chocolate Shoppe. Complete with celebrity scoopers, it proved to be a much-appreciated reunion for volunteers who love Olbrich. We all can learn from them: taking time to enjoy each other builds community and community service.

Olbrich Gardens Lobby Greeter, Outdoor Garden Greeter, Volunteer Gardener
This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Mayor's Office and a link back to the original post.