Why We Give: Sally
Lifelong Connections

Sally Davidson  Sally outside Tower Grove House

Volunteering at the Missouri Botanical Garden can connect you with the community and create lifelong relationships. Just ask Sally Davidson.

A friend directed Sally to the Garden when she came to St. Louis in 1956. She thought Sally would be interested in learning about the Garden’s role in the community and the world. Sally also learned about the Garden Guides—now called Garden Docents—trained volunteers who provide public tours and support special exhibits. She was an enthusiastic candidate for the Guides and volunteered for over 20 years. She engaged people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities with the beauty and wonder of the Garden.

“We did tours for both children and adults,” Sally says. “We worked with a lot of school groups as well. The Climatron® was a favorite spot.”

Guides were trained to adjust their tours for the interests and needs of visitors. “As an example, the Missouri School for the Blind has been regular visitors to the Garden for many years,” Sally says. “So they know the Garden. I was assigned to lead a tour for them, but I never gave the tour! Instead, I watched how those with partial sight worked with others to engage them with each flower. They showed me what they could do at the Garden.”

Sally introduced visitors to the Garden’s new features, including the Ridgway Visitor Center, the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening, the Margaret Grigg Nanjing Friendship Chinese Garden, and the Japanese Garden Seiwa-en.

 “The Japanese garden is unique because people can experience it in so many ways,” Sally says. “You could talk about the history, the beauty of the plants, the teahouse—whatever they were interested in.”

Sally also made lasting friendships with her fellow guides. “Oh, I worked with wonderful people,” Sally says. “I retired in 1993, and I got together with a group of them for lunch for years after!”

Sally’s three children understand how much her years as a Garden volunteer mean to her. They love to visit the Garden with Sally when they return to St. Louis. One of Sally’s grandchildren received a marriage proposal in the Japanese garden.

These experiences have all contributed to Sally’s decision to include the Garden in her estate plans and join the Heritage Society. Sally also recommends volunteering to everyone. “Volunteering at the Garden is a great way to connect with the community and form lifelong friendships. And that’s how you become devoted.”