Until 1986, most of the major fundraising had focused on capital projects, but WPBF still wanted to figure out a way to encourage continuing support for its 12 gardens. When a fundraiser for the gazebo, attended by many in the corporate world turned into a competitive bidding war, two long-time WPBF volunteers Barbara Vrooman (above at the first annual Adopt-a-Park breakfast honoring sponsors) and Brian Wallach said to each other, “We can’t let these people go. Maybe they would like to continue to sponsor some of our gardens.” And that’s how Adopt-a-Park was born. The program has raised more than $4 million supporting more than 60 gardens since then. To participate, go to the donate page. For more information, email us at email@example.com. More than 60 gardens have been “adopted”; several others are still available.
Since 1984, WPBF has celebrated Arbor Day each year, the last Friday each April, by planting a tree at one of the city’s public schools. Students participate in the ceremony by presenting a program of their choice that could be a musical performance, a reading or other activity. Generally, city and school district officials and other dignitaries attend and sometimes a New York State forester and arborist. Each year an individual may permanently honor or remember loved ones and friends by donating the tree for approximately $300. To do so, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The community is invited and encouraged to attend. The tree, pictured above, planted in 2012 at the Highlands campus of the White Plains Middle School has grown considerably since then. Read more about the most recent Arbor Day celebration.
In the early days, “Beautification News” was simply a mimeographed handout keeping participants informed of activities. Over the years, the newsletter has evolved into an annual publication, distributed to about 4,000 recipients. Published at least once a year, the newsletter recognizes all current Adopt-a-Park sponsors and donors as well as reports news about gardens and events. Request to be placed on the mailing list by emailing your full name, postal and email address to us at email@example.com. Read newsletters in our archives here.
WPBF shows its appreciation to the business community, building owners and other institutions, such as Burke, a winner in 2013, that are dedicated to contributing to the beauty of White Plains by presenting Business Appreciation Certificates. A committee identifies attractive, beautifully planted gardens that draw attention when passing by. This program will resume soon. If you see a beautiful garden, let us know about it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dazzle with Daffodils
Our Golden Anniversary in 2015 inspired this ongoing program with the ambitious goal of planting thousands and thousands of golden daffodils each fall over the next decade to Dazzle with Daffodils those passing by each spring. In the first two years, our organization has purchased more than 34,000 bulbs and planted them all over the city with the welcome help of the City’s Department of Public Works. Each year we will offer daffodil bulbs to all public and private schools in our city. As a student activity, it is a rewarding way to introduce gardening to children and give them an appreciation of what could be a lifelong passion. Daffodils blossom each spring on the City Hall lawn.
Earth Day White Plains
WPBF celebrates Earth Day in various ways depending on community activities. For example, WPBF has hosted booths at city-sponsored events, including Sustain White Plains that took place in downtown White Plains. Participating above were (from left) Karen Quinn, Mary Merenda, Deborah Donahoe and (seated) Rosemary Martino.
On November 21, 1976, guests paid $5 to attend a wine and cheese party hosted by WPBF at a cozy French restaurant on Gedney Way. The event netted $825 and the tradition of a fall fundraiser was born. Through the years, the Gala has had many different themes, has taken place in various venues, has honored its founders and friends and has raised as much as $30,000 in a single event. Local businesses and community members year in and year out generously support the Gala. Today, the event, typically attended by well over 100 guests, starts with a cocktail hour, followed by a sumptuous buffet dinner and dessert table. From among individuals or organizations that have been especially generous and supportive, some are chosen as special honorees. A number of companies donate door and raffle prizes for everything from gift certificates to gift baskets to vacation stays. Above, 2015 Golden Anniversary gala attendee Scott Nammacher happily displays the prize he won. Others support the Gala by placing advertising in the Gala Journal. Proceeds benefit WPBF’s programs as well as the gardens by helping to offset the cost of watering, which can exceed $35,000. Read more about the most recent Gala.
In 2015, our organization celebrated its 50th anniversary with many programs involving the community and honoring honored our founders and volunteers who have helped our organization make White Plains a beautiful place to live, work and visit. Among the many activities have been the donation and dedication of a third street clock, a special celebratory gala showcasing our history, the creation of a short video and the start of our Dazzle with Daffodils planting program. We hope to continue to help brighten the City of White Plains with the promise of hope, beauty and wonder for future generations.
Front Yard Gardens
Since 2008, WPBF has been canvassing neighborhoods each summer to thank homeowners for the efforts they are putting into their front gardens. We are looking for gardens that show care and thought about the overall appearance. There is no expectation that it be professionally designed nor a botanical garden. Some gardens are very elaborate, filled with perennials; others have beds filled with colorful annuals. Still others have beautiful pots on doorsteps or hanging from porches. We like to recognize as many gardens as we can. Let us know about a lovely garden you’ve come across by e-mailing us at email@example.com and even send a photo, and we will take a look. And if you have been the recipient of this honor, email us and we will photograph and feature your garden here.
WPBF plays a supporting role in the White Plains Youth Bureau’s award-winning Greening Project, a youth development program that offers 14-to-17-year-olds hands-on career experience through gardening, nutrition and environmental education and in effect a multi-season urban farm-to-table program. In various years, WPBF volunteers have gardened with the teens at the Baldwin Farm community garden and during 2014 conducted Greening Project tours of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Garden Demonstration Garden at Hart’s Brook, where in some years the youth also help tend the gardens there.
Every year White Plains Beautification Foundation invites every White Plains school – public, private and parochial – to apply for a $100 grant, the sole criteria being that students must be involved in the gardening project. Over the years the projects have included vegetable gardens, bulb planting, trees, beautifying entrance gardens as well as indoor planting. Students at Ridgeway Elementary School (above) take pride in beautifying their grounds. We are pleased to see the schools thoughtfully apply the funds to encourage students to plant and care for growing things. These young gardeners just may be the future of White Plains Beautification Foundation.
“This Blooming City”
During a publicity seminar for non-profit organizations at Westchester County Center in 1989, the speaker used WPBF as an example of a group that should consider taking advantage of local public access TV, still in its infancy at the time. Beth Wallach, then president of WPBF who attended the seminar, proposed the idea to the WPBF board, and “This Blooming City,” began telecasting June 4, 1990. Shows typically include interviews with experts in a wide variety of fields, including landscaping, gardening, environmental issues and lawn care as well as discussions and visuals about the many WPBF projects. Production takes place in the studio of White Plains Public Access. The shows currently are telecast at 6:30pm on Saturdays on community access channels, Verizon 45 and Cablevision 76 and at 10:30 am on Sundays as well as streamed online. Beth Wallach was succeeded by Claudia Doherty as show host in 2012, and she turned the reins over to Marie Silverman Marich in 2014. As WPBF approaches its 50th anniversary in 2015, “This Blooming City” celebrates its 25th. Watch a selection of the weekly TV shows here.