For years, the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center has depended on the dedication of our devoted volunteers to help us achieve our mission of providing for the park and its guests. Whether they are working the information desk, guiding guests to their next photo destination, or putting a smile on the faces of a vacationing family, our volunteers are the pride, joy, and heart of all that we do. To show our appreciation, we all gathered together at Weidner Field to enjoy our annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon hosted by Visitor Center creator, Lyda Hill! Overlooking the home of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks with America’s Mountain looming in the background, this yearly event brings all of our wonderful active volunteers from the year together to celebrate their hard work and commitment to our mission of providing for our beautiful Garden of the Gods!
If you haven’t interacted with our volunteers, you’re sorely missing out. Or maybe you HAVE interacted with them, but didn’t realize they were volunteers! If you’ve ever stopped by the Information Desk at the Visitor Center, you’ve surely crossed paths with one of these splendid souls; they’re the face of what we do! From educating guests on Park history to pointing out the best photo spots in the park, to even acting as experiential experts with their top-notch local recommendations, our volunteers wear a lot of hats. Not only that, but these volunteers provide life-changing educational experiences through field trips and weekly programming to help provide the best possible stay for families. With all that said, repaying these volunteers for their years (decades, for some) of dedication to serving our guests is well within order.
This year’s celebration included not only the Visitor Center founder, Lyda Hill, but also some words from guest speaker Laura Neumann, park manager John Stark, park administrator Bret Tennis, Visitor Center director Christina Haywood, and GoG Foundation president Jan Martin. This star-studded roster joined in the celebration, handing off our donation checks for the year. By the way, get this: this year, the Garden of the Gods Foundation donated $640,752.92 to the Park, alongside an additional $100,000 check from the Garden of the Gods Trading Post! That’s a grand total of $740,752.92 in donations this year alone! From there, it was all about the volunteers, with Bret Tennis recognizing and pinning several volunteers for 5, 10, 15, and even 20 years of service!
Needless to say, we are beyond grateful for our volunteers, and this Appreciation Luncheon is just one way that we express that. So the next time you’re at the Visitor Center, keep an eye out for our volunteers in their blue or white shirts, and let them know how great of a job they’re doing! Without them, our Park would only be half as memorable as it is now, and we wouldn’t be able to raise almost three-quarters of a million dollars without them!
Thank you all for your dedication and supporting our beautiful park, and stay tuned for more updates from the GoG!