Bill Stafford, foreground, was one of close to 30 volunteers at Fort Verde State park’s annual volunteer appreciation dinner, held this year at Sweet Grace Restaurant.
at left, on behalf of Hold the Fort, Sweet Grace Restaurant owners Carlie Androus and Debbie Roulette, from left, accept an award for generously hosting Fort Verde’s annual volunteer appreciation dinner. In September, Park Manager Sheila Stubler (right) will celebrate 10 years at Fort Verde, the last five years as the only full-time employee. During the appreciation dinner, she told her volunteers, “my head is only attached because of you guys.”
CAMP VERDE - Each year, Fort Verde State Park volunteers gather for a potluck dinner so they can be recognized for their hard work.
Though Park Manager Sheila Stubler enjoys putting on the annual gathering, she no longer wanted the recognition event to be bring-your-own.
"I'd like to do something for the volunteers without them having to bring something," Stubler said. "That's like volunteering again!"
So Stubler - and Sweet Grace Restaurant - were host to about 30 volunteers for dinner and dessert, as a way of saying thank you to the unpaid people who help keep Fort Verde in business.
"Carlie [Androus, owner of Sweet Grace] and I were talking," Stubler said. "She said to call her when we were ready to put on the event. She told us it would cost about $300 to put on the event, but that she would take care of it for us."
The dinner consisted of salad, pasta, barbecue pork and dessert. And Sweet Grace refused to take a dime from Stubler.
"I told Sheila that we'd pay for the food and host the dinner at Sweet Grace," Androus said. "We were happy to do it for them. Somebody needs to recognize the work that volunteers do."
In past years, Town Council member Jackie Baker spent many hours helping out at Fort Verde. Baker says she felt "honored" to be asked to join the other volunteers at the dinner.
"The people who run Sweet Grace are people who do a lot of volunteering," Baker said. "They give, give, and give back to the community."
George and Carole Dvorak of Camp Verde have been volunteering at the Fort for several years. Carole started first, followed by George. He said that Carole "put in so much time at the Fort, I had to volunteer just to see her!"
As a volunteer with Fort Verde for the past five years, Liz Roland of Verde Lakes says that talking with different people is a big motivator for volunteering at Fort Verde.
"I enjoy meeting people, visitors from out of town and also local people," Roland said. "I man the gift shop, give people an overview of the Fort. It's kind of like teaching."
"I worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 33 years. There was a time when I was the only employee, except for the volunteers," says Fort Verde volunteer Bill Stafford. "So I know the value of volunteering, "Now I'm on the other side. I'm trying to give back."
In September, Stubler will have spent 10 years at Fort Verde, the last five years as the only full-time employee. During the appreciation dinner, she told her volunteers, "my head is only attached because of you guys."