Letters to the Editor

May 17, 2009

Bringing beauty to the world

To the editor:

Last week's dedication of the fountain at City Park celebrated the generosity of the Hagerstown Garden Club working in a creative collaborative partnership with the City of Hagerstown.

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is honored to have been mentioned in the tribute the club paid through the presentation of the fountain and 900 plants surrounding it. Like art museums, garden clubs have provided citizens across America with enhancements of life that are both patriotic and utopian in spirit.

We share a commitment to beautiful things and beautiful spaces. We share a desire to improve the world in which we live. We share the commitment of teaching the next generation about the meaning and value of art, about the vital importance of living plants, gardens, and green spaces. We serve together a higher good, which is civic improvement. The sum of these values - beauty, improvement of life, teaching the next generation - is a form of patriotic service, to our locales, our nation, and our world.


Before the contemporary concept of "green" existed, garden clubs were creating and maintaining green spaces across our nation. The purpose of The Garden Club of America is "to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening, to share the advantages of association by means of educational meetings, conferences, correspondence and publications and to restore, improve and protect the quality of the environment through educational programs and action in the fields of conservation and civic improvement."

The national organization supports scholarships in a variety of disciplines, including landscape design, medicinal botany, desert studies and field botany. In Washington, D.C., the Garden Club of America is working to enhance, improve and protect the tree canopy of the city. (For more information, see

At the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, and at many other art museums across America, a widely popular and delightful integration of gardening and art occurs annually, with the celebrated "Art in Bloom" event. This year's event, held April 17-19 at our Fine Arts Museum, included 22 beautiful floral arrangements, created by volunteers from 18 area garden clubs as interpretations of works of art in the museum.

This complex and delightful event was coordinated by Mimi Dickinson and Denise Pennington, and involved the devoted efforts of some 75 brilliant garden club volunteers. The exhibition was appreciated this year by over 1,000 visitors to the splendid event. On behalf of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, thank you to the devoted garden club members who have given so much to our community in recent days, and over a proud 80-year history.

Thomas C. Newcomer, President
Rebecca Massie Lane, Director
Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Bike collection effort breaks records

To the editor:

On Saturday, April 25, Otterbein conducted its fifth annual bike collection in partnership with Bikes for the World. Community response is always great - but this year you helped us set a new record. In his weekly follow-up report, Keith Oberg, director of Bikes for the World, stated, "Saturday's event in Hagerstown is the largest one-day single-site collection in Bikes for the World history."

Twenty-six volunteers from Otterbein worked in record-setting 90-degree temperatures, to process a whopping 402 bicycles.Each bicycle and sewing machine was received, processed, transported and loaded onto containers that day for shipment overseas.

A container destined for Panama was quickly filled to capacity with bikes and 15 sewing machines. Overflow from our influx was shipped to a newly formed partnership set up through the Peace Corps and Department of Education in Liberia. Washington County and surrounding communities responded with generosity to a cause that is well orchestrated and life changing. Thanks to each of you who dropped off a bike that day, 402 people will have affordable transportation and be able to improve their lives by traveling long distances to school, work or to receive medical care.

As you can imagine, publicity is a key factor. Making the collection date and location known in advance is critical. We extend a special word of thanks this year to the Hagerstown Rotary for sponsoring radio, television and newspaper advertising.

The familiar voice of Lou Scally helped spread the word across the air waves. You may have seen the M.S. Johnston truck with the huge bicycle on display near the railroad tracks on Eastern Boulevard. We discovered that others in the community assisted by posting our flier on their Web site or office bulletin board, and we are grateful. The Otterbein planning team also thanks Phil Ruth and Glen Singer for early pick-up of bikes that could not be delivered on Saturday.

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