A year ago, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, I wrote my first President’s message. In that message, I stated that my personal motto is, “When one door closes, another door opens.” This saying is something in which I truly believe and have lived by throughout my life.
Bringing this philosophy to the Gardens during this past year of Covid, we chose to look internally to see what could be accomplished and with the strong support of our membership and their tremendous amount of creativity and hard work, much was accomplished.
Following Virginia Robinson’s legacy of serving children of the community, the Friends had a Children’s Science Program, bringing over 2,000 schoolchildren from the 2nd to the 4th grades to the Gardens for docent-led children’s science tours each year. These tours covered topics such as photosynthesis, pollination, composting, the difference between fruits and vegetables, and many more science-based topics.
Unable to continue to bring children to the Gardens, the Friends created a semi-virtual tour and box unit, taking the Science Program to the children at home and when school began, to the schools. Two units have been completed, Healthy Living & Nutrition and Plants & Our World. Each unit consists of a video and box for each child, containing a notebook filled with information, games, and all the tools needed to complete the assignments along with a teacher’s guide. Created last fall, it has already served over 1,300 schoolchildren. As schools continue to open, we will be able to have both programs serving even more children.
As we all learned to “Zoom,” we were able to expand our audience for educational classes, starting with an Ikebana demonstration, a gingerbread making class, a wreath making class, a wonderful presentation on interior design, and a book review.
The history of the Robinson family is intertwined with the history of the growth of the city of Los Angeles and the history of Beverly Hills. With the Gardens closed to events and tours, the opportunity to start the preservation of the family memorabilia was made possible. With strong membership support and volunteer hours, hundreds of documents have been sorted and preserved including the preservation of rare films. This process continues.
We continue to create; this summer, we will be having a succulent wreath-making class and the start of a new book club, the “Tea, Scones & Gardens Reading Group.” Also, a 3rd unit for our Virtual Children’s Science program will be finished for the start of school in the fall.
We are grateful to our members and supporters who renewed and donated to the Gardens and who are strongly committed to this very special place.
I look back at this last year, this “Covid year,” and it can be seen that truly “another door opened.” The Gardens moved forward, all because of the resolve and dedication of the Friends, docent volunteers, and the County staff of the Virginia Robinson Gardens.
Thank you all and may you enjoy your summer.
Betty Rodriguez Goldstein
President of the Friends of Robinson Gardens