Last Wednesday G.A.L.A. hosted its annual Appreciation Party at the Wolfe’s Tavern where we acknowledged a selection of volunteers for all their hard work and contribution by presenting the Volunteer of the Year Award, Pitchfork Award, and Sustain-A-Raiser Superstar Awards. The event was also planned around the Discovery Channel’s holiday special screening of Dude You’re Screwed where one of G.A.L.A.’s Founding Board Members, Tim Smith, was the featured “dude” who was dropped off in wilderness of arctic Norway and told to find his way back to civilization. At the end of the night, many G.A.L.A. fans huddled around the TV, along with Tim Smith himself, for the nail biting survival show.
The night concluded with the volunteer of the year recipient, John Murray, offering a G.A.L.A. donor challenge. For every person that donates $100 or more, they will receive a FREE state auto inspection at Murdawg Custom, a value of $40.
According to G.A.L.A.’s Managing Director, Josh Arnold, “Our Appreciation Party is the one event of the year where the only thing on the agenda is simply to celebrate and honor all of the people who contribute in so many different ways to the work of G.A.L.A.. As a small grassroots organization, our success is inextricably linked to the commitment and dedication of our volunteers and donors, so while we extend gratitude to the G.A.L.A. community everyday, tonight we get to put a few people on the spot!”
The first people to be put on the spot where the Girl Scout Troops 12521, 11029, and 12490 who received the Sustain-A-Raiser Superstar award for “a bold vision for a community garden, and the dedication by many helping hands to bring that vision to life.” The Girl Scouts reached out to G.A.L.A. early last winter to begin a partnership that would eventually result in the community garden in Clark Plaza that provides fresh produce to the Life Ministries Food Pantry, as well as some of the Girl Scout families. As a token of appreciation, the Scouts were presented with small patches with a picture of a compost bin to add to their uniforms. Scout parent volunteers Katie Hafner and Briar Lambert were there to receive the award and expressed their deep felt appreciation for G.A.L.A.’s guidance and support on the community garden project, as well as their excitement to continue the partnership into next year’s gardening season.
The next award, the Pitchfork Award, is designated for that special volunteer who is always “pitching in.” This year’s Pitchfork Award went to Evan Henderson for volunteering more that 80 hours on a diverse range jobs including helping in the office, managing the bike blender booth, building and installing raised beds, rain barrels, and compost bins, washing dishes at Farm to Table, picking blueberries for the pedal powered smoothies, and marching with G.A.L.A. in the 4th of July parade. Last year’s Pitchfork recipient, Jessica Cole, presented Evan with the custom engraved pitchfork, thanking him for his tireless commitment to the G.A.L.A. community.
Lastly, the Volunteer of the Year Award is presented in the form of a watering can has become a traveling trophy much like the Stanley Cup, being handed off to the next recipient year after year. This award is designated for a volunteer who is “behind the scenes” contributing in ways that could go unnoticed by the typical bystander, but to G.A.L.A.’s success is absolutely vital. If G.A.L.A. were a plant, this person would be the nourishment that reaches its taproot, giving strength and support for programs to blossom, so the fruits of sustainability mission can be realized in the community at large – hence the watering can.
Last year’s award went to Beverly Woods for her role in keeping G.A.L.A.’s website live and computers working properly. This year, Beverly passed along the symbolic watering can to John Murray of Murdawg Custom for all he has done to keep G.A.L.A.’s waste vegetable oil powered truck on the road, including an engine swap this past winter. “Without the truck, there is simply no way we could have completed the 19 different Sustain-A-Raisers this summer alone,” says Josh. “Murdwag’s support has been unwavering and absolutely pivotal to our programs.” Murray has donated more than 50 hours of time, valued at $4,000 of in-kind labor, in addition to $1,500 in donated auto parts over the course of the last two years.
Volunteers, donors, and members alike celebrated one another in a spirit of gratitude and achievement for all the ways the G.A.L.A. community has had a positive impact on since it was founded nearly nine years ago. Tim Smith, one of those original founding Board members, was also a highlight of the evening’s festivities. Upon conclusion of the Awards ceremony, the jubilant group shifted its focus to the television where on the Discovery Channel, Tim Smith himself was the featured “dude” on the hit show, Dude You’re Screwed. The Lounge at the Tavern Bar was thick with a star-struck audience for the gripping arctic Norway “Silent Night” episode. Tim is the founder of Jack Mountain Bushcraft and Guide Service and continues to partner with G.A.L.A. in offering the monthly self-reliance and traditional skills workshops.
The night concluded with the volunteer of the year recipient, John Murray, offering a G.A.L.A. donor challenge. For every person that donates $100 or more, they will receive a FREE state auto inspection at Murdawg Custom, a value of $40. Visit G.A.L.A.’s website at www.galacommunity.org or call the office at 603-539-6460 to take advantage of this offer and to learn more about upcoming volunteer and program opportunities.