The Board of Directors of the Friends of the Rogerson Clematis Collection (FRCC) is instituting a volunteer acknowledgment award, and we shall be calling it the “Sharon Kaito Volunteer of the Year Award” for meritorious service to the Rogerson Clematis Collection by a member not currently serving on the Board. Sharon will be the first recipient of the award, to be given at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the FRCC, on February 1, 2007.
Sharon began volunteering for the collection when it was still in Brewster’s hands, and housed at Gutmann Nurseries in Mountaindale, OR. She became an adept seed collector after a season of Brewster’s tutelage, and Sharon also loved repotting clematis, looking into their roots to find the story of a plant’s life. To this end she began providing chop-sticks to the collection, which have proved invaluable for teasing clematis roots apart and dislodging old soil. Sharon always brought treats for her fellow volunteers when she returned from visiting family in Hawaii. She was quick to organize car pools, and lunches at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course Cafe, and we all felt that we were part of her family, too.
When FRCC was formed, Sharon signed on as Recording Secretary. As soon as it became clear that we needed one, Sharon also became our first volunteer coordinator, and talked to all of Portland’s major horticultural non-profits to gain an unmatched understanding of how such groups as The Classical Chinese Garden, Leach Botanic Garden, Berry Botanic Garden, and even the Portland Zoo, recruit and track their volunteers. The care and feeding of volunteers became Sharon’s primary focus as a volunteer herself. She developed forms required by the City of Lake Oswego, set up a training schedule, and gave selflessly of her time to make sure that she was well acquainted with the volunteers, and could respond to their needs. Sharon was always concerned that the volunteers get the credit they deserve for all they do, as volunteers often donate not just time and labor, but also tools, plants, and supplies.
A year ago Sharon was nominated to serve on the Board of the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon (HPSO), and although we were happy for her, several of us on the FRCC Board expressed privately that, knowing Sharon’s typical level of dedication to her volunteer commitments, we were likely to lose her to this larger and more diverse group. After brilliantly orchestrating the move of the clematis to Luscher Farm in December 2005, and providing training to our spring crop of new volunteers in ’06, Sharon felt that she would need to resign her FRCC positions and become “just a member,” in order to fulfill new commitments.
Those of us who had the privilege of working with Sharon continue to miss our day-to-day contact, and the way she said “eeew!” whenever any bug or other crawly thing appeared in her view. Sharon’s development of FRCC’s volunteer program is a foundation upon which the Board and a new coordinator can build, and we would be foundering without it.
With all of this in mind, the Board is proud to announce the founding of the Sharon Kaito Volunteer of the Year Award, and to extend it to Sharon as our first Volunteer Coordinator. We will continue to honor her many efforts, and support her in all of her future endeavors.