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April 1st, 2019
Ann Phillips was a Children’s Reference Librarian for 18 years with the Wauwatosa Public Library before joining the volunteer team at RMHC. With her heart set on becoming a Master Gardener, she decided to retire early and train with the UW-Extension program and became a certified Master Gardener in 2001. Since the Secret Garden first opened its gates in 2002, Ann has been nurturing it every step of the way. She admits, “what I love the most is families and children, so this is a perfect, perfect place for me.”
Ann leads 21 other Master Gardeners to ensure the Secret Garden is in tip-top shape all year long. The team recertifies every year and only uses Master Gardener approved techniques in the Secret Garden. “My belief is that the Ronald McDonald House families deserve the very best,” she shares.
Ann is also in charge of Family Garden Education, a weekly, year-round House program that uses horticultural themes, literature, games, crafts and more to inspire families. Ann says, “I like to think that we are growing gardeners, cultivating friendship and harvesting hope. There is a lot of fun, jokes and friendship that goes into Family Garden Education, as much as the outcome of what we plant.”
Having been a part of RMHC since the Garden’s beginning, Ann has seen quite a lot of change and growth. However, despite all of the change, Ann asserts the philosophy of the Garden has remained the same-to provide a social and tranquil respite for our guest families. “I am devoted heart and soul to the mission of this House, and sharing that with all of the staff and the volunteers, we all work together to create a home away from home and keep our families together.”
As we head into the spring and summer months, Ann is excited for the projects that lie ahead, especially tagging the Monarchs to track migration with our guest families. “It means everything to me to continue to help the staff and the families enjoy the garden.”
As we ‘Walk Down Watertown,’ we are so grateful to have team members like Ann who have been so committed to the RMHC mission over the last 35 years.