Janet Gardiner is passionate about supporting Easter Seals Arc’s recreation program, and she isn’t shy about explaining its impact on her son and other consumers.
“I would fight tooth and nail if there were ever a chance of (recreation) being eliminated,” she said. “It’s a part of their lives. It rounds them out. Some would just sit at home without these activities.”
Gardiner’s support goes beyond talk, however, and her countless hours of volunteer support earned her the agency’s 2014 Volunteer of the Year award. She also earned Area 3 Special Olympics Volunteer Award in 2005.
“I’m very, very proud of those awards,” she said.
Over the past 20 years or so, Gardiner has served on ES Arc committees and became heavily involved when the agency considered dropping the recreation program due to budget concerns. She’s been a significant part of the bowling program and helps out at dances, ice cream socials, and other events.
“I go where I can to help out,” Gardiner said. “There’s not a lot that volunteer and take some of the load off Doug.”
Doug is Doug Bowman, recreation supervisor. In nominating Gardiner for Volunteer of the Year, he noted that she has done the standings for both Arc bowling leagues for 15 to 18 years. The nomination said, “Doing things for the clients brings her personal satisfaction and enjoyment. She is loved by the clients and sought out by them at bowling. Her doing the standings is invaluable for me as the recreation manager. She does it with a willing heart and enjoyment.”
Gardiner’s son Glynn has been participating in ES Arc recreation activities for as long as she can remember the program being available.
“It would have been the first time he could do something with his peers, without his parents,” she explained, saying that he has changed a lot over the years. “He wants to do everything, and he wants to do it with Arc. He’s made friends, and he sees different people at different events.”
Thanks to Gardiner and her volunteer work, Glynn and hundreds of other ES Arc consumers continue to benefit from recreation activities.