- September 23, 2016
The District 1 Citizen of the Year in Orange County actually is a group of women 135 strong dedicated to floral and gardening philanthropy in West Orange County.
Orange County Commissioner Betsy VanderLey selected the Bloom & Grow Garden Society to recognize its more than two decades of contributions to the community. The award is given to an individual or organization that has gone above and beyond the normal responsibilities of a citizen, and the winners of each district were announced at the virtual 25th Annual Orange County Community Conference.
“We’re very excited to receive the award. we feel it’s a very prestigious award,” Jeanne Yazinski, garden club president, said. “The entire club has really gone above and beyond on the projects they’ve done throughout the years.”
VanderLey said she ultimately chose the garden club because of its continued impact on the community. Bloom & Grow is the creator of the Path of Life at Chapin Station along the West Orange Trail, and members provide all the landscaping at homes built through West Orange Habitat for Humanity and Home At Last. The organization draws thousands of people to downtown Winter Garden every year during its Spring Fever in the Garden event.
“Their impact has been quiet, but it certainly is significant,” VanderLey said. “They don’t ask for a lot of attention or credit.”
Bloom & Grow has given more than $450,000 in scholarships to students who intent to study agriculture or horticulture in college, and members have invested millions of volunteer hours in the West Orange community.
This year, the garden club took on two major projects.
The first was the 1,000 Trees for 1,000 Years planting initiative at Tucker Ranch in Winter Garden. About 200 members of the club and the community gathered to plant bald cypress trees in the 209-acre recreational park and nature preserve. The second project is the monarch butterfly sculpture, a 10-foot-tall copper piece of art that is completed and waiting to be installed on Plant Street near a commercial building currently under construction.
“If you take all the hours they have put in … it’s significant, and the change they have made in the community is a game changer,” VanderLey said. “It’s a well-deserved recognition.”
“We really appreciate that Orange County appreciates our efforts, and we’re very appreciative to Orange County and Betsy VanderLey for recognizing us for the award,” Yazinski said.