The Garden Club of America held its Annual Meeting in San Francisco this year, and representing South Side were President Tina Mattimore, Club Delegate Jane Arbeiter, and Zone Reps. Cindy Mullin and Mary Miller. The event was hosted by the 18 member clubs of Zone XII, who did a spectacular job of organizing the two-day event attended by more than 600 garden clubbers. It was a weekend packed with activity – business meetings, workshops, a flower show, exhibits, lunches, dinners, guest speakers, awards presentations and tours of the city. GCA President Dede Petri and her executive board ran the meetings like clockwork to the minute. The guest speakers, Sam Hodder of Save the Redwoods League, Landscape Architect Thomas Woltz, and Jonathan Foley, of the CA Academy of Sciences, were fabulous.
Saturday afternoon, the group broke into workshops for presidents, delegates and zone reps. The workshop for delegates began with a very informative talk about public speaking and a funny sketch about the nominating process. This was followed by lunch and lively roundtable discussions pertinent to each zone. Our table shared ideas for club workshops and speakers and talked about the difficulty some of us have with membership. We had a few hours to ourselves to absorb all we had heard, then got ready for the Zone Dinners. Our Zone III dinner was at the elegant Town & Country Club, an historic women’s club in San Francisco.
Sunday afternoon, after another lively business meeting and committee reports, we went on a variety of tours of the city. Some went to Alcatraz to view the gardens there, some to the SF Museum of Art, some to walk the Tunnel Tops at the Presidio, a 14-acre park similar to New York City’s High Line. The weekend ended with the Awards Dinner Sunday night. To great fanfare, the honorees were escorted into the Grand Ballroom where we enjoyed cocktails and dinner in high style. Eleven medalists, five of whom are GCA members, gave heartfelt acceptance speeches, including former First Lady Laura Bush. But the South Side ladies were most excited to meet May Pierce, who was given the Natalie Peters Webster Award, which is not given too often. Mrs. Webster was a member of our garden club and past president of GCA.
All in all, it was a most inspiring weekend. It’s sometimes hard to explain to people just what a garden club is all about and its relevance today, but after speaking with and listening to so many motivated and dedicated women, I came away with a renewed appreciation for the work done by the Garden Club of America. As part of an organization, and as individuals, we have the power to make an impact on our community and on our environment.
To paraphrase Dede Petri from her opening remarks, Garden Club of America members are “happily paying money to work for free”.