President’s Message

GCO President Deanna Stearns (photo courtesy Valentine Photos)
GCO President Deanna Stearns (photo courtesy Valentine Photos)

Plant America: Give and Grow with GCO

The following message was presented by incoming GCO President Deanna Stearns upon her installation at the recent GCO Convention.

This is a humbling experience to stand before all of you. All of the countless Garden Club of Ohio volunteers and garden club members are the strong backbone of this non-profit organization. Our mission statement tells us that we “support endeavors in every aspect of gardening through educational programs, horticulture and floriculture. We will show by means of example a responsible stewardship of our land”. Through common interest and goals, we can create memories which will endure throughout the years to come.

We continue to sponsor Flower Show School and Landscape Design School, as well as Environmental and Garden Study Schools. We encourage Ohio college students to apply for our scholarships. Our Scholarship Committee under the direction of Chairman Aggie Goss, takes this challenge seriously. We have a wonderful and hard working Awards Committee. Cleo Lehman and Barbara Snyder are always available to help you with any question on how to apply for an award. As always, we continue to encourage our clubs to apply for awards to recognize all the hard work.

Your GCO Board for the 2017-19 term is excited and involved in their particular chairmanship. The new team will be offering life enriching experiences for current and future generations by providing opportunities for education and appreciation of nature.

There is much business to accomplish as we look forward to establishing the Garden Club of Ohio charitable foundation.  The Budget & Finance Committee under the direction of Barbara Okleson is always available to answer financial questions and to watch over all of our funds.

My project for this term will be to feed Ohio. Poverty and hunger is high throughout the state and in every community. There are approximately 202 “Feeding America” Food Banks in the country along with other organizations. All of those Food Banks are desperately needed, but more needs to be done. Usually one in four children and one in seven adults are hungry. It is my understanding that in the local Canton area approximately 5,000 people are served each day. A recent USDA report found 16.9% of Ohioans now live in food insecure households ranking our state sixth nationally for the highest rate of food insecurity ranking behind Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky and Texas. Incidentally, 16.9% represents 1,852,870 individuals. Garden Club of Ohio and our member clubs can do something to help.

Pat Rupiper has agreed to become the “Feed Ohio” Chairman. I am asking our garden clubs to support this project. How about building a root cellar? How about your club filling food boxes around the third week of the month when the average $133 food allotment has been redeemed? And just a note, that is about the time food pantries are empty. I am sure your club would be able to fill backpacks for children to have food over the weekends. How about teaching kids of all ages to plant a garden and harvest it? It has been brought to my attention that many individuals who use the food pantries do not know how to prepare fresh food.  Maybe helping out with cooking would be a fun experience for you and those you help. I know many of you have ideas about how to help. Many clubs participate with Habitat for Humanity landscaping.  Maybe planting a vegetable garden would be helpful.

This project does go hand in hand with our National President’s theme of “Plant America”. So let’s do just that and help those in need here in Ohio. Let us plant, harvest and feed Ohio. We can be an example for the rest of the United States.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson tells us “to laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded”. As active garden club members we can epitomize the ideals expressed by Emerson by leaving the world a more beautiful place for others to enjoy. We are provided a unique opportunity to set high standards for the coming years. May our actions bring peace and preserve our planet for those who come after us. Together we can proudly recognize the value of our past accomplishments while shaping a bold new future.

Now on a personal note, several years ago I was the President of Canton Garden Center, in fact that year was 2000. That was the year I attended my first Garden Club of Ohio Convention right here in the Toledo district at this very same venue.  Little did I know I would be in front of all of you 17 years later accepting the honor of President of this prestigious organization. Wow! I can say, “what is a girl like me doing in a place like this?” Garden club work is so rewarding. I joined to learn and experience new activities and that is just what happened. I have grown personally on several fronts. I encourage all of you and your friends to take up the torch (or rake and hoe) and grow like your garden can grow. We will have fun these next few years and we will learn and we will serve others.

Before I close, it is with the deepest gratitude that I say to all previous and existing volunteers a heartfelt thank you. These are the members who have led our organization since it was founded 90 years ago. Through common interest and goals we can create memories which will endure throughout all time.

As I said before, it is an honor to serve as your President. Please join me and the members who have taken the challenge to lead the various standing and special committees along with our School Chairman as we continue to dedicate our efforts to bring conservation, horticulture, beautification, education and charitable works to each of our communities. It is my wish that all members will have the opportunity to both enjoy and participate in the wonderful programs, trips, and activities which have been planned in the coming two years.

Plant America: Give and Grow with GCO

Thank you all,

Deanna Stearns, 2017-19 Garden Club President