Once we turn the calendar to November, we know it’s time for the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and Awards Night where Tyler’s generous volunteers are celebrated. Tyler staff provide the food, décor and ambiance, which is followed by a short program full of honor and thanks for their faithful volunteers. It’s a great night full of good food, good people, smiles, laughter and even some tears of joy. We look back on accomplishments, time given and excellence in service.

We knew in March that this year would be different, even if we didn’t know exactly how. But let’s go back a bit to the end of May 2020, after Tyler had been closed for over two months. We started getting questions from some of the volunteers. Many were anxious to get back to work and find a sense of normalcy or solace for just a few hours. “Pretty soon”, we said, “We hope it won’t be too much longer.”  Everyone felt the tug of springtime and knew they didn’t want to miss an entire season separated from Tyler. Those weeds were growing and there was work to do!

By June, the first volunteers returned. By July, over 100 volunteers were signing up for their work sessions. Tyler felt so blessed. The volunteers answered our call for help, wore their masks, socially distanced and got right to work.

It goes without saying that the 2020 volunteer celebration would be different, since the pandemic made an in-person evening impossible. A way to express Tyler’s appreciation and thanks had to be identified for this special group that shared their time, talent, and creativity with Tyler during the unforgettable year of 2020. We had to remain apart, but we had months of thanks built up. This resulted in a ‘Thank You’ video, created with input from staff and volunteer leads. We wanted to reflect and remember 2020 as the reality it was at Tyler, with our faithful volunteers lending a hand for Tyler and the community at large.

You will see people hard at work, their eyes smiling above their mask. You will hear voices giving heartfelt thanks as they express their sincere gratitude. You will soar above the tallest trees, gaining a new perspective on Tyler.

Yes, we still plan to have an in person Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and Awards Night as soon as it is safe. We still have accomplishments to note, and awards to give, and food to eat.

So sit back, watch and listen as Tyler celebrates you.