Kay Falkow’s commitment to civic duty was shaped by a childhood deeply rooted in community engagement.

A significant influence during her formative years was her father, who not only pursued a full-time career as a dentist but also served as the mayor of their small town. His dual roles exemplified a genuine love for the community, and, as a result, Kay and her family became actively involved in various community projects, including clothing drives, food drives, personal financial education, and beautification initiatives.

Raised in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia, these early experiences not only laid the groundwork for a life dedicated to giving back but also shaped Kay’s perspective on the importance of community engagement. Her mother’s passion for gardening further fueled Kay’s love for nature, creating a foundation that would later lead her to the perfect volunteering role at Tyler Arboretum!

Kay spent her career in IT and finance and met her soon-to-be husband, Bob, while they were both working for a bank in Northern Virginia. Opting for a less stressful lifestyle to raise their family, Kay and Bob moved to Delaware County, where Bob was born and raised. Now, with her daughters settled in the Baltimore suburbs and nearby West Chester, Kay embraced retirement in 2021 as a new chapter dedicated to giving back.

Deliberate Commitment

Taking advice from others and driven by a desire to maintain her skillset, Kay approached volunteering after retirement with careful consideration. She chose Tyler as her exclusive volunteering commitment, allocating three to four hours weekly to tasks within the Development Department. She began with stuffing envelopes but quickly moved on to contribute wherever she was needed.

“I will do anything,” she says. “Whatever way I can help makes me feel good.”

Kay’s deliberate choice to work in an office setting highlights the importance of diverse volunteer roles, recognizing that office volunteers are just as crucial as horticulture volunteers in sustaining the operations of Tyler Arboretum.

Kay and Bob on their most recent trip to Hawaii.

Finding Balance Post-Retirement

Beyond her volunteer work, Kay finds joy in traveling, walking, reading, playtime with Rosa (rescue dog), and undertaking home projects. Currently documenting and digitizing old family photos, she plans to extend this project to her daughters’ childhood artwork. Hawaii holds a special place in her heart, and she and her husband recently returned from a trip in early December.

Kay Falkow exemplifies the spirit of service and dedication to the community that makes Tyler Arboretum thrive. Her story is a testament to the diverse ways volunteers contribute, not only through physical outdoor work but also through crucial behind-the-scenes roles. We are grateful for volunteers like Kay, whose passion and skills make a lasting impact on the success of Tyler Arboretum.

Kay and rescue dog Rosa.

Versatility in Action

Kay’s responsibilities expanded to include filing, spreadsheet input, and managing donation paperwork. Her meticulous approach ensures that all documents related to donations are filed correctly, contributing to the audit trail. In collaboration with Tyler’s Director of Development, Kay played a pivotal role in cataloging and filing development documents, transforming some of the office space into a valuable historical reference.

One of Kay’s notable projects involved scanning and indexing Tyler’s history from the 1940s, providing researchers with readily available resources. Her organizational skills proved invaluable, leading to a broader archive project that cleaned up office spaces and deepened her understanding of Tyler’s rich history.