Volunteer of the Month - Sarah Gardener

“I tend to forget what I’ve done because I tend to be focused on what remains to be done,” Sarah Gardener says.  That’s a lot to forget because Sarah’s imprint is richly distributed throughout the Gage Center.Sarah Gardener

Sarah was impressed with this story told by a neighbor of Gage, who wrote:

…when she was living here in her later years and was one day about to start for Syracuse by one of the only two trains in the day by which we could go to town for errands and had already locked her door and left the house, a man – not a professional tramp evidently – asked her for food, saying he was in need and hungry. She turned back, unlocked her door and built up a fire in the range and prepared a meal for him, giving up her journey for that day at inconvenience to herself. This from a woman who seemed at least to go towards her ends with a certain impatience to reach them, has appealed to me as particularly fine and, as I have thought of it, characteristic.

Wanting to commemorate this caring nature of Gage, Sarah researched and found that a cat symbolized a home where generous-hearted women like Gage lived; a signal to other hungry workers that someone lived inside who would help them.  So Sarah designed and produced pot holders and kitchen towels with a cat logo for sale at the Gage Center gift shop and through our on-line gift shop. She then stepped in and got the gift shop organized for our grand opening.  She follows through with an idea like this from start to finish.  A retired architect, she worked on the design of the kitchenette in the Gage Center, then provided the funds to make it happen. Now she bakes for our special teas, then prepares the home elegantly and is part of serving the food. “I love to cook,” Sarah explains, and “love to have parties so I can do what I love to do and have it mean something”.  Sarah sees a need and fills it; no task is too big or too small.  “In its’ own way everything is meaningful, even buying brooms and dust pans because it all helps,” she smiles.  And she drives all the way from Rochester to do all this!

Why does she devote herself to the Gage Center’s mission?  Sarah replies, “For me it is about reclaiming Matilda’s name from obscurity and giving her the recognition she so richly deserves and restoring her home as a physical embodiment that provides a focus on the issues she cared so passionately about.  It invites people to discover, discuss and carry on her efforts for future generations.”

That is why we were honored to present Sarah an award in November for her leadership and architectural expertise in consulting on the design for the Gage Center kitchenette and making it a reality, then creating teas in it.

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