From the Executive Director
Bon voyage to the founders of the J. D. Hooker Chapter. These pioneers, spirited by Britt Smith, will return to Sikkim this month, in celebration of Festival 2000. The chapter, founded in 1991 and sponsored by Clive Justice in its fledgling years, has provided many opportunities and international gateways toward peace and communication between this delicate rhododendron treasure trove and the American Rhododendron Society. Today the Tacoma Chapter of the ARS sponsors the chapter. The festival will be climaxed by a coming together of the Smith group and another delegation from the Danish Rhododendron Society and our chapter in Denmark. An ad appeared in the Fall 1999 Journal, advertising this trip. Everyone was invited. Founders and plant hunters have congregated for the adventure. As a member of the Society, I can think of no greater privilege than to have been a part of this delegation to Sikkim.
But it's the middle of April, and the reward for being near our home garden includes the daily surprise of new miracles exploding from those tiny buds that started appearing last summer. Take a special rhodie to the post office and the accountant. Pick up a few membership brochures at a chapter meeting and slip these next to your lovely flower. Invite the new members of your chapter over for a tour.
It's come to my attention that many of you haven't put your new rhodie decal in the car window. Be sure and do that right away and remember to keep the car parked at the local garden center. You'll want to spend time loitering around the rhodies and azaleas anyway. Your knowledge may be needed. Be sure and have lots of our membership brochures with you at all times. We've all received so much from the Society; sharing our knowledge is how we give it back.
Three years ago I began a job for the American Rhododendron Society. Over the past few months, many of you have provided me with great expressions of support, and friendship as I face a challenge with my health. Having lived my life in excellent health until now, I had never fully understood the healing strength that can come from cards, phone calls, bouncing e-mails with music, and other surprises to brighten those rainy days.
What you have shared from your hearts has brought me to an overwhelming awareness of the quality and kindness of my 6,000 employers. You needn't turn on a sit com to watch angels at work. Look in the mirror and think of the joy you've brought to so many, just because you see the beauty in rhododendrons and azaleas. At your next rhodie meeting, give each other a hug - you deserve it! (If you are a member of the New York Chapter, I have it on the very best authority that a hug may be confused with a mugging, so please approach each other with caution.)
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