In these times of budget cutbacks and dwindling resources, the Lake Oswego Village Flower Basket program is a testament to what volunteer time and donations can accomplish. Entering its 21st year of operation, the program with annual costs of $70,000 is completely funded by donations from private citizens and businesses and is made possible by a partnership between these groups as donors and volunteers and the city of Lake Oswego.
“That’s what people don’t realize,” explains Lori Lauber, Office Manager for the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce. “The Village Flower Basket Program is managed by a foundation through the Chamber and all the funds are donated.” The money that comes in goes out to cover the $300 cost of one basket from purchase to maintenance which includes daily watering and feeding. This year, close to 50 volunteers hung 247 baskets throughout Lake Oswego, fanning out in four teams with specific job descriptions from “ladder and safety support” to “flower basket hookers.” It’s a team effort that draws veterans and newcomers beginning as early as 4:30 am on a Saturday in May. Baskets stay up as long as funding and flowering allows.
Why go to all this trouble for flower baskets? It enhances the quality of life, bringing an aesthetic beauty to the city as residents as well as visitors travel along the main rights-of-way. The flower basket committee takes pride in the fact that Lake Oswego won the “America in Bloom” award in 2003. Their efforts helped Lake Oswego earn a 5 out of 5 Bloom rating for floral displays. In addition, the chamber is frequently sought out by other communities hoping to replicate the program in their towns. For volunteers, the reward is one of feeling a sense of community and ownership. “It’s gratifying for volunteers to walk by the baskets in the middle of summer and say, ‘I hung that!’” explains Michele Baker, coordinator of the Village Flower Basket Foundation.
The flower basket program is also a very visual and public way of saying, “We care about this town enough to invest in its beauty.” That message can be appealing not only to residents but newcomers. Just a few months ago the Chamber’s Lauber received a call from a new resident who said, “I decided to move here because of the baskets and I can’t wait to donate.” That’s quite an endorsement of a program that is totally volunteer funded and run.
To learn more about the Village Flower Basket Foundation, check our their page on the Chamber of Commerce website at: http://lake-oswego.com/village-flower-baskets.htm or their facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Lake-Oswego-Village-Flower-Basket-Foundation/214345888590671.
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