Since 1994, Beacon Design has been creating custom ornaments with the Boca Raton Garden Club. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing, Carol Rice, the Ornament Chairman. Carol shares the history and details about the organization and why their annual ornament program plays such a significant role in their fundraising.
The Garden Club
In 1953, the non-profit organization first opened its doors. Originally, the club’s purpose was to enhance town parks and improve city landscapes. Over the years, the club has taken on many new and exciting ventures. They support continuing education by offering scholarships to deserving students and providing junior gardening classes at local elementary schools. A portion of their fundraising money goes to the scholarships each year. In addition, the garden club offers horticulture lectures, field trips, and floral design classes. They also provide additional services to the city with their garden therapy, community garden, and conservation.
In 2004, Carol started volunteering at the garden club after she retired as a high school English teacher. Soon after she became a full-time volunteer. She shares that one of the most rewarding parts of her volunteer work has been the garden therapy classes. Garden therapy is held on campus at Florida Atlantic University in the Memory and Wellness Center. Here, they provide classes for patients with Alzheimer’s and work with them to create small floral arrangements. Carol says that it’s wonderful to see the patients’ faces light up and to know their families are very appreciative of this activity.
As for challenges for the garden club, Carol shares that because they own their clubhouse and the surrounding land, it takes a lot of money to maintain. The property alone is equal to the size of three city lots. For this reason, it takes very well planned fundraisers to make a good profit and meet their goals of maintaining the building and property each year.
This year will be the 25th custom ornament that the Boca Raton Garden Club creates with Beacon Design. “We refer to them as commemorative ornaments because each one is of a historic site or building of importance that is significant to Boca Raton,” says Carol. She continues by explaining that the ornaments are one of the major fundraisers for the organization. They have loyal customers who have been buying the ornaments each year and have become annual collectors. Customers often contact members each year asking to come to pick up their ornaments. In addition, members of the garden club will reach out to their loyal customers to let them know their ornament is ready.
Each year, the club holds its Holiday House Fundraiser which is one of their most profitable fundraisers of the year. There, the members will set up their ornament table. Carol also sells the ornaments at the Pioneer Club meetings and occasionally churches. This helps the organization to build new customers and in return annual ornament collectors.
Carol shares that the club continues to come back to Beacon Design after 25 years because the product is beautiful. She says, “The ornaments are beautiful, so well done, and continue to appeal to our customers.” As Carol reflects back on her first many years working with Beacon, she talks about her experience working with her then account manager, Ana Lopes. Ana has since become the VP of Sales and Marketing for Beacon Design, but Carol describes her experience working with Ana as a friendship. She could depend on Ana to give her the best direction and advice for her ornaments each year. Since then, Carol says that she continues to have great working relationships with her account managers. She always recognizes their professionalism and knowledge of the product.
What’s Next for the Boca Raton Garden Club
As a gift to the community for their years of support, the club plans to continue its Flower Show. The Flower Show is a bi-annual event that is open to the public for free. It’s an opportunity for members of the community to view beautiful floral arrangements. The floral designs are judged by accredited Flower Show Judges. Additionally, Carol hopes that her present-day programs live on and expand. She says, “The garden club is rooted in the community and we have a full plate of activities and community outreach that we strive to continue.” Carol also plans to create her annual custom ornaments for as long as the community enjoys collecting them.