Every weekend, I come into the Nature Center to volunteer. This consists of answering phones, meeting and greeting visitors, and answering any questions that they may have.
At least that’s what I thought it was when I first started. That was seven years ago.
Now I can see that it’s so much more. More work? Perhaps. However, I can honestly say, I’ve never had so much fun and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
On Saturdays, the two staff members working are naturalist educator, Sean Shaffer, and custodian, Frank DeMartino. They are quite the team. I’ve known both of them since my first day volunteering.
I have to say that working with Sean is an absolute pleasure. Sean is a dedicated, kind, intelligent and overall great guy! He is also an amazing writer, who has inspired me to write myself.
Sean has written many pre-k stories for the children during our classes and has a great imagination. He also has a lot of knowledge about the natural world and has taught me much of what I know now.
Frank is much more than just a custodian. He always is talking to people, offering a friendly smile and help when it’s needed. His positive spirit is often needed and appreciated so much by so many.
I met Frank when I was ten years old, so I can honestly say that I grew up with him. We are the jokers in the Center and together form a great team! Frank is my best friend rather than my colleague. More like my older brother than my friend.
We talk about techy stuff, cars, art, nature, life in general and all the mishaps that happen along the way. I find it rather amusing that each week, we fill each other in on the miscellaneous adventures that we go through. From his car breaking down and acting up to my Geometry test that I just can’t pass. Friendship is like free therapy!
These are the little reasons why coming to work is such a pleasure for me. When I see something interesting about bees and mentally say, “That’s a Sean question,” or when I see an unsolved mystery and say, “I can’t wait to show this to Frank!”
Their awesome work ethic and friendly spirit help me in ways I don’t even think they know. The ideas Sean and I throw at each other for upcoming programs, the crazy messes that I help Frank clean up that leave us saying, “How did THIS get in a Nature Center?”
Because really people, a bag of infants clothes belongs in a donation bin, not a Nature Center!
Yet that’s one more thing I’ve learned from having spent so many Saturdays here. There’s never a dull moment! Never ever! Something funny, bizarre, and totally out of this world, will always find it’s way here. It just takes a little time.
I spend my afternoons here because I find it extremely pleasing and fun to help people learn new things, even for five minutes. I keep coming back, because of the relationships that last a lifetime.
You can’t duplicate that. I mean, how can you let go of a place where you come and get a hug from a guy who’s like your brother and sit down laughing over coffee? How can you let that go? Where else do you find that?
For me, there is nowhere else. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Here, I’m needed. Here, I’m truly wanted. Here, my thoughts and opinions matter.
And during wacky Saturday afternoons here, I belong.
Thank you, Sean and Frank, for all those little things that will last a lifetime!