By Allison Reser
I was fortunate enough to experience my very first volunteer weekend at Shadowcliff this May. As a relatively new board member, I’ve heard the phrase “bring life to Shadowcliff” used innumerous times to describe May volunteering. Before May, I had visited Shadowcliff a few times, enough to know which building was Cliffside and where Riverbend was. I had walked the Laws of Nature Trail nodding, thinking, “this is pretty cool.”
The Laws of Nature
I could picture what it would be like to invite 40 or so people up to “bring life” to Shadowcliff. But this picture was nowhere near as lifelike as my volunteer experience actually was.
I could not have predicted how lively the volunteers were. I arrived to a welcoming, wonderful group of people who obviously care about the place. Everyone was so excited to grab buckets for cleaning, hammers for repairing and trowels for weeding. I spent a good chunk of my volunteer weekend hauling logs. Back and forth and back and forth, I placed logs along the edge of the Laws of Nature Trail 4 feet at a time. I gradually lined the trail, passing my fellow log-carrying comrades each time. At one point I stopped and looked at the progress we had made and was amazed at how much better the trail looked. Eventually I could walk the whole trail and draw one continuous line of logs as I went. We did it!
A Sense of Accomplishment
Needless to say, the Laws of Nature Trail is much more than, “pretty cool,” to me now. It evokes a sense of accomplishment, pride and emotional connection.
At lunch that day, I looked around at the smiling faces of the other volunteers and realized that they must all feel a similar sense of accomplishment. The next time they see the project they were just working on, they will remember that it couldn’t have been done without them. Every single thing is intentional. The lack of dust and the lack of weeds does not just magically happen. It is the result of someone who cares enough to volunteer their time. Even the fact that there’s a shelf to dust or a garden to weed is the result of decades of volunteers who built Shadowcliff.
When people say that the May volunteers bring life to Shadowcliff, it is not a metaphor. Each volunteer that has ever touched Shadowcliff is part of the story. They’ve brought their compassion, their spirit and their life.
Thank you for welcoming me into this community!
Allison Reser is a young sustainability professional based out of Denver, Colorado. Graduating from Colorado State University in 2015 with a BS in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, she brings to Shadowcliff her passion for helping people connect with nature. Her aunt, Joni Teter, is a former Shadowcliff board member and inspired Allison to follow in her footsteps.