ASNA's First Saturday Volunteer Gardening is an event that has evolved over time and continues to grow by providing members and non members of the organization an opportunity to connect over something we all hold dear, our park.
The First Saturdays Volunteer Gardening event was initially led by former ASNA Board Member Bill Bonds. When Bill retired from the ASNA Board in 2018, then board member and regular gardening volunteer Cynthia Chapman, was asked to take over the event.
We sat down with Cynthia to ask her about her experience of being ASNA's Vice President and the reasons why First Saturday's continues to be a well attended event among the neighbors.
Q: What made you decide to run for Vice President of ASNA?
Cynthia: "Actually, I had no ambitions of being an ASNA officer, but when former VP Jason Jervis became President in late 2018, he called me and asked if I would consider being his Vice President. My first response was, "Who, me? What the hell do I know?" I was surprised by the question but honored to be asked to serve as an officer of the ASNA Board of Directors."
Q: How successful do you think you have been as ASNA's Vice President?
Cynthia: "I recently retired after 43 years as a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines. I enjoy and am comfortable interacting with people. One thing that I wanted to accomplish was to make our general meetings more social, fun, and engaging. When the meetings moved to the Archbishop's Mansion, Jason and I worked hard to create a lively and welcoming atmosphere by providing drinks (wine!) and light snacks. This proved to be successful...our meetings had more of a neighborhood feel...relaxed, social, and well attended...until Covid derailed our chance to meet in person. But we'll be back!
Q: What has been the secret behind your success with First Saturdays Volunteer Gardening?
Cynthia: "When I moved into the neighborhood in 2015, I fell in love with Alamo Square Park. I immediately began volunteering for the monthly gardening event under the steady leadership of Bill Bonds, a long time ASNA board member. It was a great way to meet neighbors and it felt good to donate my time to the park that I so loved. When Bill stepped down from the board, I was asked by then President, Gus Hernandez, to lead the volunteer group. LaVonne Hickerson, a longtime ASNA board member and fellow volunteer, was very supportive and encouraged me to persue my dreams of making the event more kid and family friendly. "Kids and Dogs" became my rallying cry and now whole families participate, giving parents a fun and worthwhile family activity while instilling the joys of community service to their children. We also have a steadfast group of regular volunteers, from age 16 to 70+ that show up month after month; they are the bedrock of First Saturdays Volunteer Gardening.
Q: How did First Saturdays manage to survive during 2020 and shelter in place?
Cynthia: " Our volunteer participation GREW during the pandemic. Being outside, while also social distancing, was a Dr. Fauci-approved activity. And Rec & Park supported us to keep the First Saturday volunteer gardening alive and made sure that the gardeners were on-board. All of the gardeners. especially lead gardener Evan, have been amazing and supportive. Our volunteers have been quite motivated and happy to socialize with neighbors while still maintaining all safety precautions. The event has been and continues to be a great way for people to meet neighbors while serving their community in a very enjoyable and relaxing setting."
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share with people about First Saturdays or joining ASNA?
Cynthia: "It is a priveledge to serve on the ASNA board of directors. I have been quite inspired by all of my fellow board members as they each have something valuable to offer on wide ranging topics. From traffic safety to the Divisadero Merchants Association, from crime prevention to local politics, from dog news to city ordinances...each member has an important role to play in the success of ASNA. Plus, they're a lot of fun to be around...
President Jason Jervis has a clear vision about the future of ASNA and it's not complicated. More neighborhood social gatherings, more communication with our local leaders about concerns of the neighbors, improved social media presence and nurturing the crowned jewel of our neighborhood...Alamo Square Park.
Finally, I would like to say that everyone is welcome to volunteer, attend meetings and to participate in general. I honestly don't know which participants are members of ASNA or not. It's all about neighbors working with neighbors to keep our beautiful park clean and our neighborhood safe and vibrant. That said, membership to ASNA for a single person is only $20 per year. A small price for such a huge benefit...Join Today! OK, that was my plug...Bye!
Plug: informal verb: to mention a product, event, or establishment publicly in order to promote it