By: Lake Hopatcong Foundation
We had such a great week sharing photos, stories, and dedications for LHF Volunteer Appreciation Week! Thank you to all who responded to our posts on Facebook and Instagram, it was nice to "see" you! In case anyone missed any of the fun, below is a recap from the week.
A simple heartfelt thank you from the LHF staff (please don't judge us on our ability to recite lines together! lol). Thank you all ❤️.
For #LHFVolunteerAppreciationWeek, we wanted to find a way to thank our volunteers on the site of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation Environmental & Cultural Center, at the historical Lake Hopatcong Train Station. With that in mind, this spring we planted a flowering plum tree seedling, and we will soon have a plaque at its base, acknowledging the amazing volunteers who are the engine of our efforts. In the years ahead, we hope it grows along with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation. Make sure to pay it a visit when you’re checking out our Native Plant Garden on the east side of our property. THANK YOU to our volunteers!
A slideshow of some of the incredible work our volunteers do. With literally hundreds of volunteers assisting us, there's no way we could make sure you were all included, so whether or not you find yourself among the slides, please know how much your efforts are appreciated!
I first joined LHF when they needed educators to create a curriculum for how to be safe on a frozen Lake Hopatcong. I was one of several retired teachers who not only wrote a safety program but also helped get it into the local schools. Our group then worked on getting a curriculum for the lake environment and how to get children interested in the health of Lake Hopatcong through hands-on learning. You would have thought that this would be enough but then Dorothy Sabarese said let's write a book about it and have Patricia Mueller do the illustrations!” (I was a retired art teacher.) Well, three years later we got the book done and it's called "Lake Hopatcong Speaks Out," and it was all volunteer driven!
~ Patricia Mueller, Lake Hopatcong
Volunteering with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation is a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. There are many varied opportunities that allow individuals a chance to focus on their interests and expand their skill sets.
As a retired third and fifth grade educator, I knew I wanted to be a part of the Education Team. I have become a member of a dedicated, friendly, and supportive group of people. Each one of us has a passion for sharing our expertise and knowledge toward nurturing, protecting, and preserving Lake Hopatcong and the Musconetcong Watershed.
Every year I look forward to working with the children. The field trips give me the opportunity to still be able to find enjoyment and purpose in the career that was such a large part of my life for thirty-seven years. I have found my role in working with the presentation of the EnviroScape lessons. At this station, we focus on the responsibility of each individual becoming aware of the everyday pollutants that affect our environment and ecosystem. Through hands-on activities, the students come to see the need to take their part in striving to maintain a healthy lake and its surrounding watershed for the years to come.
I am looking forward to celebrating Volunteer Appreciation Week with everyone!!
~ Gay Bucci, Rockaway
Having volunteered as a Water Scout for the search and identification of the invasive species Water Chestnut from the start of the effort over 10 years ago, I have never actually had the opportunity to discover the plant on my designated route, which is Point Pleasant down to Landing. Which is a good thing. However, knowing that there are “hotspots” in certain areas, many volunteers do double duty, accompanying Donna Macalle-Holly on a weekday roundup search in August, like the one in the canals on Wednesday, July 15.
Accompanying Donna and I on this particular day were Carol Kitchin, Melanie Wedemeier, Joel Servoss, Ralph Grotheer, and Ted Tolles. At some point, the men went one way, the women the opposite direction, and it wasn’t long before I spotted my first live water chestnut plant near a homeowner’s dock. Calling Donna over to double check, I thought this couldn’t possibly be this elusive plant because there were so many of them!
Sure enough, I had identified my first water chestnut find, and it was a big one! All the women began collecting the rosettes, which seemed to be never-ending and connected to one another, pulling them onto our kayaks and into the few plastic bags supplied. They quickly overtook our storage space! We were energized in finding and eradicating them, but also sad to have found them in our lake. According to Donna’s counts at the end of collection day, there were a total of 37 plants including 123 rosettes. Since I asked her to let me know what was in my heavy bag, she told me in contained 15 plants with 49 rosettes!
I am a proud supporter of the LHF Water Chestnut annual efforts, and will continue to patrol both my route and the follow-up hotspot areas in the years to come. Finding them of course was a double-edged sword, feeling both happy and sad at the same time. But the effort is worth it for the health of our beloved lake.
~ Cindy Heaton, Hopatcong
Volunteering for the Lake Hopatcong Foundation helped me make a significant life change four years ago. I’m a native of Morristown, N.J., but went to college in Massachusetts and was employed there for 43 years before retiring in 2016. Unattached at the time, I met a Stanhope woman online and began entertaining the thought of moving back to New Jersey. In the fall of 2016, I decided to move away from the Massachusetts community I’d grown to know and love for more than four decades, back to the Garden State.
My new sweetheart, coincidentally, was in the midst of a big change of her own—a new job, with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation. One of Holly Odgers’ first responsibilities was working the registration table at the 2016 Lake Loop. My very first activity, the day after moving to New Jersey, was participating in the 2016 Lake Loop. I also stuck around, after the event, volunteering to help with the cleanup and breakdown.
That day, I met about a dozen people, LHF staff members and volunteers, who have since played a role in making me feel warmly welcomed back after a long absence from my home state. The more comfortable they made me feel, the more I volunteered. They, and many other people connected to the organization, including Holly of course, helped make my transition from a very familiar place in New England to an unfamiliar place in New Jersey much easier and more satisfying. Thanks for the opportunities, as well as the warmth!
~ Bill Woolley, Stanhope
"Volunteering for the LHF was a no brainer for me. When I found out about the organization and that its purpose was to aid and work with the state to help keep our lake healthy for generations to come, I signed up immediately.
"A year later I learned about the education committee. As a former teacher, that, too, was a no brainer. I’ll never forget my first educational meeting. I was so energized...like a book lover locked in a library. Oh, the possibilities! Working and learning on the school field trips inspired me to even write a picture story book to teach children and adults how to be good stewards of our wonderful lake.
"During my years volunteering for the LHF, I have been challenged while learning so much. Many meaningful friendships have flourished that I will always cherish. Thank you LHF for enriching my retired years."
~ Dorothy Sabarese, Hopatcong
After spending months with our incredible education team as we collectively worked out how best to organize our field trip program, I will never forget seeing it all come together the first season in 2015. Watching students make their way around Hopatcong State Park, learning watershed and ecology lessons from our dynamite team of volunteers, many of them retired teachers, was such a special moment. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the creativity, patience, and energy of our education volunteers. As that program has grown over the years, and hundreds of students have benefited from it, I will always remember the joy and excitement of those very first trips that got it all started. And I will always be grateful for the volunteers who made it possible then, and continue to make it the amazing program it is today.
~ Jess Murphy
It would *not* stop raining! That’s one of the things I remember about the annual native plant sale back in May, aka my first-ever LHF event. What I remember most, though, is the dedication of all the volunteers that showed up, decked out in their raincoats and galoshes, happily sorting, packing, and helping to hand out everyone’s box o’ natives. Despite the rain, despite Covid19 being a perfectly acceptable reason to “sit this one out,” they simply couldn’t; and my garden and heart are very full because of it! Thank you, volunteers!
~ Caitlin Doran
I was meeting Judy Caruso, one of our volunteers, at Hopatcong State Park for set up the day before our first Block Party in 2014. I introduced Judy to my mom, Rose Macalle, who I had recruited to volunteer with the setup. When we arrived at the park, the park lawn was filled with Canada goose droppings so I asked my Mom and Judy to pick up as much of the droppings as they could. Judy never lets me forget how I volunteered my mom, who was 76 at the time, to pick up goose droppings. And boy did they pick up a lot that day. I recently told Judy that my Mom was the 3rd prize winner for the LHF virtual gala raffle. Judy's response was, well she deserves winning. Remember you made her pick up goose poop at park. We are so very thankful for many special memories we cherish thanks to our volunteers.
~ Donna Macalle-Holly
It’s 6:00 am on a Sunday in October. It’s still pitch-black outside, but a group of volunteers are already running around, illuminated only by a couple of headlights, setting up for the annual Lake Loop Bike Run Paddle event at Hopatcong State Park. It was my first event working for the Lake Hopatcong Foundation and by the end of the day, I had met dozens of volunteers who had set up courses, sorted t-shirts, helped check in participants, cheered riders on a rest stops, and just so much more. As someone who has worked for non-profits for more than 20 years, I have never before experienced the sheer number of volunteers willing to come out in all kinds of conditions to assist with programs or events. I am still impressed to this day and I don’t believe I will ever experience an organization with a more lovely and dedicated group of volunteers.
~ Holly Odgers
Working with the water scouts will forever be a fun memory of mine. Who knew coming across a patch of water chestnut was like finding gold? Nestled away in a cove, hidden by a dock, one of our water scouts discovered a massive patch of the invasive species, water chestnut. We were excited and horrified at the same time (since it’s invasive), but the water scouts did not hesitate to get their hands dirty. We pulled the long-rooted plants, stirring up flies, muck, and a strong odor—but that did not stop us! After clearing out the whole patch, we happily made our way back, kayaks stuffed with the water chestnut, and ear to ear smiles.
~ Melanie Wedemeier
In December of 2019 I was so proud to have established a great volunteer committee and two wonderful chairs who were going to work with me through the whole gala process that would lead up to the big day or our yearly gala fundraiser at the end of July. We were moving quickly, assigning sub committees for food, decorations, entertainment, invitations and more. We knew we had this!! So we went into the new year feeling very confident about being ahead of schedule. By March we all worried about our event in July…how long would this virus last? Certainly not until the summer! We carried on with our planning and prepared invitations, decided on themes and started working on sponsorships. By April we were having Zoom meetings since our office was closed but we were still on track for our Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club event. Then, by May 1st we came to the reality that we would have to “pivot” to some sort of virtual event, if we were to do anything. I was amazed at how quickly this committee jumped into action, coming up with incredible ideas, helping select an online auction program, learning all they could about live-streaming, soliciting over 80 auction items and introducing a “Split The Pot” raffle. The flexibility of these volunteers was incredible! They could have easily said no to this change of plans and, yet, they gave it their all. AND most of all, we exceeded our original goal for the live gala we had intended to host! I can never express the appreciation this committee deserves for working through the pandemic and making this first-ever LHF Virtual Auction such a success. Love you all!
~ Roberta Schmidt