Mary Carnes

Volunteer Supervisor Spotlight

Volunteers at the St. Jude garden

Mary Carnes, second from left, is the garden site coordinator at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Mary Carnes has been the garden site coordinator for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital since the summer of 2016. Memphis Tilth, the nonprofit cooperative for which she works, partnered with St. Jude to help manage the hospital's garden. Produce from the garden is used as a local source of food for the St. Jude cafeteria, Kay Kafe.

Carnes says she enjoys supervising volunteers for the garden at St. Jude.

"I like being able to incorporate volunteers' ideas into the work we do in the garden," she says. "They make aesthetic and organizational contributions that help make this space more beautiful and functional."

Throughout the week, Carnes usually sees around six to ten volunteers. She says supervising others has given her invaluable experience in working and communicating with others.

"In many ways I have become a teacher, reiterating to others how I do my job," she says. "It has also been delightful to work with and get to know many individual volunteers. They make my job more fun and also bring diverse experiences and ideas to the table, which are valuable assets especially in a garden setting."

She says supervising these volunteers has allowed her to feel more a part of the St. Jude community. She has also become more excited about her job as well as about the prospect of getting more people involved in the garden. Recently, the garden expanded its volunteer opportunities, thus making it easier for employees to help out during their lunch breaks or after work.

"The volunteers are helping transform this part of downtown Memphis into a respite, from bricks and concrete, to a haven for birds, butterflies and pollinators," she says, "and, in turn, are creating more enjoyable and peaceful spaces for patients and families to spend their time."

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