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New Volunteer Center

New Building in the GWC Garden

Call it what you want, volunteer shed, volunteer office, or volunteer center, we want to thank everyone who contributed books, tools, time, or money-for your help in replacing our volunteer’s little home in the Garden!

After its loss in June 2011 it took a few months to acquire enough donations to help purchase our new headquarters for the volunteers. It took even longer to wind our way through the paperwork needed to have it installed-But it’s here!

A sincere thank you to all who have given your hard earned money to help us purchase this. Hand tools were given to us by individuals, volunteers, and companies. Many of the Books were replaced by publishers and others who heard of our loss and sent replacement copies. Special thanks to Sarah Wallbank who donated some of Rod Wallbank’s plant related books-he was our Garden Co-Director for many years and passed away in October of 2010. A chair and desk were provided by old campus surplus, and shelving was built in place. There is more we need to add to this little structure but it is mostly done.
So now when the volunteers come in on Tuesdays and Thursday mornings they have a place where their tools and seed can be safely stored, jackets can be hung, and volunteer log and other paperwork done.

Please stop by and see what your donations helped purchase and be sure to tell the volunteers about your generosity-they will want to thank you!

Heart of the Garden

Heart of the Garden

Late Thursday afternoon, June 2, 2011, the volunteer center in the GWC Native Garden caught fire and burned down. I received the call at home after 5:30pm and besides all the normal thoughts about HOW this had happened, I wondered what might still be there. The fire department had been there and done its job so perhaps the hand tools survived. Books were all on the south wall so it was conceivable some of them made it although there would certainly be water damage from the fire fighters effort. I was sure the seed collection was gone. As my wife Elizabeth and I drove to the College that evening we made a list of what I remembered being in the shed—a list of what we most probably lost—it was something to do as we drove.

When we got to the GWC Native Garden a blackened charred vacancy was all that remained of what had once been a home of sorts for our group of community volunteers. I could recognize the little desk and filing cabinet that had been pulled out along with blackened wall sections by the firefighters to make sure all hot spots were exposed and put out before they left. Everything else was pretty much ashes or melted. Our extensive lending library of books related to native plants and botany was gone or nearly so. A few sodden pages were still legible. On the floor a pair of volunteer’s rubber rain boots was a puddle of blackened rubber, nearby lay the metal heads of the shears and loppers, handles burned away.

The physical loss of the volunteer center and its dozens of books -all frequently used, a nice seed collection, various hand tools, propagation equipment and many supplies, is one thing. But somehow there is more to the loss. This is where we hung our coats when warmed by our work, where we stored the seed we painstakingly collected and processed, where we listed the plants we grew and made our labels, where we noted our day’s events and efforts, and where a comic strip apropos to gardening was tacked to the wall for others to enjoy. It was where I sat in the quiet and cool of the early morning and made a list of work suggestions for the volunteer’s workday. Without being aware of it, this simple little building became the heart of the garden for those of us caring for the Native Garden. It was packed full of tools and books and memories.

I don’t want to make this out to be more than it is. I know people who have lost homes in fires and this is of course nowhere near that level of loss. Still there is a disturbance in our work and in the pulse of the Garden’s work crew. Currently, the sad black area of ash and debris has been cleaned up. The charred trees on either side pruned. Time has passed and we are ready for a new building and a new beginning for our community volunteers!

If you would like to help us create the new Volunteer Center with its needed contents, and assist with the continuing care and development of the Garden, please consider making a monetary donation (of any amount), towards the effort. Donations of $100 or more will be thanked with a special tee shirt. If on campus you can visit the very nice people in the Golden West College Foundation Office which is located on the south end of campus adjacent to the President’s office, or Call them at 714-895-8316. You can also mail donations to the GWC Foundation at PO Box 2748 Huntington Beach, Ca  92647. Make checks out to “GWC Foundation” and write “GWC Native Garden” on the memo line. All donations made to the Garden’s account (through the GWC Foundation) are tax deductable.

Please consider giving and mentioning it to others. Thank you very much!

Dan Songster
Director, Golden West College Native Garden

Questions about the Garden?
Contact Dan Songster at