Volunteer of the Year Award

Alice and I were honored this year by the Michigan Nature Association to receive their Volunteer of the Year Award for the work we’ve done in the Estivant Pines. The award banquet was held in Lansing on October 28th. Alice was unfortunately not able to attend because of her professional obligations, so I accepted the award for both of us.

I made arrangements for Mom and Dad to attend the dinner with me. We almost didn’t make it. We’d taken a tree down in their yard, and were busy getting things cleaned up until it became clear we’d have to leave soon. So we rushed around and made it out the door just in time.

One of my MNA friends, Natalie, was kind enough to take my small camera and take some pictures for me. This one was of the three of us at our table before the dinner started.

The speech I’d prepared depended on some slides I’d put together on my laptop computer. I’d asked a couple of times what sort of projector/computer system would be available at the dinner, but never receiving an acceptable answer, I just stored the slides on my computer and hoped for the best. We got there early enough that we could experiment with my laptop, and it appeared that it would work to just plug my computer into the projector.

I began my talk by introducing Mom and Dad. The crowd immediately applauded them, and I think many of them recognized the Soldan name from the family business.

As we all know, things often don’t turn out the way they are supposed to. When I tried to get my slides to work before going up to give my speech, the results were disappointing. The young woman in charge of the setup worked on it while I began my talk. Occasionally she would get something up on the screen, and the crowd would cheer… they were on my side. Toward about the middle of my short talk she was back in sync with me, and the crowd saw the talk as I had intended it.

At the end we got a very nice ovation. The chair of the board of trustees was up next, and called my speech “eloquent.” That felt pretty darn good. Mom and Dad were getting tired after our long day of work so we left a bit early and headed home. I think we all slept pretty well that night.

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