It’s that time of year again. Tuesday was the 3rd annual Spring Into Summer Luncheon hosted by the Buffalo Olmsted Park Conservancy. The event took place at Kleinhans Music Hall, where guests sparkled in hats made with flowers, feathers, and fun.
A number of early birds gathered outside to enjoy the weather prior to heading in. The Conservancy’s staffer and photographer Zhi Ting Phua was out shooting photos of the guests. Those straw Bermuda hats were popular with the guys, as were the raffle tickets supporting a great cause – the operation of the Olmsted Parks. With it being an indoor event, fascinators were particularly popular, bringing the 1920s back in full flair. However, there were more than a few ladies in lovely wide brim hats. Guests looked fabulous in day dresses, trouser suits, and I even spotted a Sari. Pointed toe shoes and flowered handbags added sizzle to the mid-day affair, which was sold out.
After chatting it up with friends, and meeting some new people in the lobby, it was time to move along. It took the ushers some effort to herd over 380 guests into the luncheon room for the awards and well earned lunch.
This is one of those events that does double duty as both a networking affair, while raising funds for charity event. Janis Dunworth and Christine Wiktor performed the duties of Co-Chair. These ladies, with assistance from the Luncheon Committee and Conservancy staff, grew the event from 200 guests last year to over 380 this year. (Sweet!)
The entrees were set and ready for guests when they entered the Mary Seaton room. Everybody caught up with each other while breaking into the most appropriately named, Green Goddess Quinoa Summer Salad with yellow and red cherry tomatoes, spinach and asparagus. Alternatively served Chicken Cutlet Milanese with a salad of arugula, cucumber, red onion, tomato, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano & balsamic vinaigrette delighted guests. As all the Goddesses of Buffalo deserve for lunch, Chocolate Pound Cake, caramel cremeux and pine nut caramel crisp finished us off!! I am thinking next year will be sold out before we know it.
Awards, awards, awards. The Volunteer of The Year award went to valuable community partner Ruth Lampe (posthumously – accepted by her husband) who is being recognized for her dedication and commitment to the parks. Ruth served since the conservancy was formed, volunteering for jobs on both the Design Review Committee and the Long Range Planning Committee of the Conservancy. She also kept coordination between local community associations and the Conservancy running smoothly.
The William Dorsheimer Community Partner Award went out to Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. For 25 years, the organization has been working throughout the city, including efforts involving the entire Western New York region. They have brought together multiple partners to do the tough jobs from wading into creeks pulling out old tires, to keeping our drinking water from being contaminated from stormwater runoff which also causes algae to grow into “blooms”, producing toxins. The award was accepted by Jill Jedlicka, Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.
People like Lampe and organizations such as Riverkeeper are needed more than ever as we work within budget constraints. There are always problematic issues that face the parks – volunteers are retiring, and it seems as if Mother Nature is hitting us harder with rainstorms that cause stormwater runoff. Without support from the community, we would never be able to overcome the obstacles that are thrown our way.
The parks see over 2 million visitors a year, and play host to 1,600 public events. That means that workers are busy around the clock. Work duties range from changing out trash cans, to clearing paths, to removing graffiti… it all adds up. Last year, the Conservancy was short 6 seasonal workers, at $13,000 each. This year’s goal for the luncheon was to raise $70,000; funds will be directly applied to necessities such as hiring seasonal workers that will be distributed across the parks and parkways. The Conservancy receives $1.4 Million from public tax dollars from the City of Buffalo each year. The annual goal is to raise an additional $2.4 – $2.6 to reach the annual $3.8 – $4.0 million to operate. That means that it’s absolutely necessary to call upon corporate donors, memberships and individuals to make up the difference. Thankfully, we have events such as the Spring Into Summer Luncheon to network and raise funds. As this event continues to grow, we hope to see new faces in the crowd in years to come.
*About the author: Tara recently volunteered for and joined the Long Range Planning Committee