Leadership

President’s Message

I am truly honored and humbled by the privilege to serve as your 43rd President.
You must know that this is one of the most momentous occasions of my life!
There are three main reasons why I stand before you today!

You know Life is funny!

Seventeen years ago when I was making the move to Elloree, a friend of mine quoted to me a few lines from Robert Frost’s famous poem….“The Road Not Taken” he said…….Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled and that has made all the difference!

Well seventeen years ago I took the road less traveled so to speak when I moved to Elloree, but unfortunately I realized when I got there I had no friends. Believe it or not my husband (and if you know Harold this makes perfect sense!) found out the ladies in the town joined a garden club and Harold got me an invitation to join the Elloree Garden Club, so I then had 25 new friends. It was wonderful, I was so happy and really enjoyed the friendships and learning what made the garden club tick.

Well, one of the members just happened to be Sarah Ann Parler and when she became GCSC President she invited me to join her board as the Logo Chairman, and that is the first reason why I stand before you!  So by being a board member of The Garden Club of South Carolina, I now had 5K new friends!

Those were the days!

Sarah Ann and I traveled together for years and we became fast friends, like sisters.

I became very interested in everything Garden Club. I went to every Spring and Fall District Meeting, all GCSC State Meetings and Conventions, and almost all Regional and National Conventions. I became a Flower Show Judge and Landscape Consultant.

Early on at one GCSC State Conventions I was captivated by the sight of two classy women having a grand time!  I knew then that in spite of all the work involved at the state level, this could be a fun organization!

Well, one of the women just happened to be Babs Barnette and the other was Becky Crow. At some point I got the opportunity to introduce myself and since then Becky has become my dear friend, benefactor and staunchest supporter. We have had a lot of fun together. And she is the second reason I stand before you today.

The third reason is my family!   My husband and our 3 sons and their families are 100% supportive and interested in my happiness, and they know that I have found true happiness in my garden club work.

My Theme “Birds of a Feather Garden Together!” is all about gardening for and conserving and preserving birds and I have planned lots of bird-related activities and events for the next two years.

My President’s Projects includes two main parts to my fundraising campaign:

One is “Feed the Birds” which will be an ongoing donation program and I hope all clubs will take part in it.

The second is an absolutely exceptional Garden Tour in the Aiken and N. Augusta area this October 6 & 7th. The two-day tour offers a delightful sampling of Aiken County properties from historic antebellum homes and gardens through Aiken’s period as a winter playground for the rich and famous, where you will:

  • visit a vacation home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and
  • Jenks Farmer’s home and gardens and
  • the garden of the Founder of the Garden Club of South Carolina-Claudia Wright Lee Phelps
  • and you will enjoy a reception in a Winter Colony Ballroom and hear about the scandalous affair of a notorious SC statesman
  • and feast at a catered BBQ lunch and so much more since these are only the highlights!

And no small contribution to my fundraising efforts will be the sale of birdhouses that my husband Harold is creating! They will be sold and raffled off at meetings as well.

All of the funds raised over the next two years will benefit the bird-featured garden projects at the:

SC State Botanical Garden in Clemson and the at Riverbanks Botanical Garden’s Children’s Garden in Columbia.

In keeping with my theme, I have added a new award to the GCSC State Awards List called “The Carolina Wren Award” with a $150 First Place prize.

I will be cultivating and partnering with all of our Affiliate organizations which in turn opens a ton of doors for GCSC members to take part in all of the educational programs and outings they offer across the state. And they are all so excited about the bird theme as well.

In fact, Audubon SC has invited us to join their project monitoring endangered birds like the Wood Thrush and the Ruby Throated Hummingbird in our own backyards. And they offer many bird walks and social events around birding! All of these events will be posted on the GCSC website.

I am working with my chairmen to increase club memberships and GCSC Scholarships and we are researching nonprofit and bird-related grants we can take advantage of.

My Publicity Chairman is already planning a campaign to help put GCSC out there to help increase awareness and subsequently participation in the organization!

Now you all know GCSC owns a beauty spot property in the heart of Columbia located on the Governor’s Complex called the Memorial Garden.

I would like to entice you all to bring your lawn chairs and coolers this August 31st and enjoy a beautiful concert by the USC music department in the garden and on November 11 join me for a Veteran’s Day Ceremony by the Fort Jackson Military Band and Guard when our special guest will be Governor McMaster!

Finally, in October 2018 we will have an unbelievable Bus Tour to Monticello, the US Botanical Gardens in Washington DC, and Mt. Vernon.

This is especially meaningful since GCSC has an historical connection to Mt. Vernon- in 1853 Ann Pamela Cunningham from Laurens started the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, the first ladies organization in the country. And at that time they raised 200K  (when congress would not!) to purchase the dilapidated Mt. Vernon estate and 200 acres………and the rest is history!

They are very excited that SC will be visiting and planting a tree in honor of Ann Pamela Cunningham! The information, history and details about this tour will be on the website in May.

I know how hard you all work to make this organization great and I truly appreciate that. So you can see there will be lots of interesting and enjoyable events on the calendar to show my appreciation.

I look forward to seeing you at the GCSC EXPO on July 15 where you will get all the information you need to start your club year off with a bang!

Its an event where you can make new friends and get lots of program ideas so you can start turning your yards into bird sanctuaries!

But mostly I look forward to working with all of you! I have made many wonderful friendships over the years in this organization and that means so much to me!

Please invite me to your club meetings or events and reach out to me anytime! I know the next two years will fly by!

Thanks you so very much for making my day! I am ever grateful for the opportunity to serve.

And seventeen years ago my choosing to take the road less traveled has made all the difference!    Thank you!

Donna