Gems of the Valley: Donis & Bob Yoder

For Master Gardeners Donis and Bob Yoder, taking on several gardening opportunities at once is just the natural thing to do, especially when working with others.

“It’s very satisfying,” said Donis, 65. “What you get back from people is so much more than what you give. It’s a wonderful part of life to do that.”

Bob, 66, said that for him, tending plants is therapeutic.

“My parents always had a garden and I enjoyed (tending) it,” he said. “It was like therapy; it was just enjoyable.”

Donis said she and Bob differ from what they enjoy.

“He’s the vegetable person and I’m the flower part of it,” she joked.

Diane Bruno, co-chair of Marietta in Bloom, said the Yoders have been responsible for many projects with the group, most especially the “Marietta 1788” signs leading into the city.

“They have selflessly given their time to beautifying the gateways into Marietta,” Bruno said. “Marietta in Bloom determined that the forest green color of the letters and numbers was not a good contrast with the brick; a beige would be better. Donis sought the exact color that would do the trick. Bob painstakingly and methodically prepared the site and expertly repainted the one on (Ohio) 7 and Muskingum (Drive) last fall. He will do the same to the one on the Pike, near Big Lots, when the construction is complete.”

Bob said that he spent several hours working on the signs.

“(It took) about six hours each,” he said. “Prep takes (about) four hours…(I’ve got) two (signs) down and one to go.”

Donis said a lot of their success is due to local businesses and other volunteers.

“It just takes a community; that’s the biggest thing,” she said, adding that Marietta in Bloom is always looking for volunteers.

Le Ann Hendershot, director of Campus Martius Museum, said the Yoders have also worked tirelessly to help with landscaping in front of the museum.

“I approached them last fall to say, ‘Hey we need help with our landscaping,'” said Hendershot. “They jumped on board with us. They’ve just been fantastic for us; they have such good ideas.”

Hendershot said the duo worked up a five-year plan of things to do around the museum.

“They’ve got youth (from the juvenile center) coming in and helping them,” she said. “They’re great supervisors for those folks.”

Hendershot said her experience with the Yoders has been very positive.

“I can’t say anything negative; they’re just great people and fantastic to work with,” she said. “It’s good for the community to have them.”

Stephanie Galati, superintendent of the Washington County Juvenile Center, said the Yoders have worked well with the many young women at the center.

“The girls have really enjoyed going over (to the museum),” she said. “They put together projects for our girls…We’re glad to work with them. They’re very nice people…I think they take special interest in the kids as well; they help them, give advice when they can and (are) positive role models for them.”

Donis said working with the girls there has been a beneficial experience for all involved

“I just adore those girls,” she said. “We get so much back. When you get to see that smile and (see) the learning they do, it’s just wonderful to have those kids interact.”

Likewise, Bob said it’s an incredible feeling.

“You can kind of see their eyes brighten,” he said. “It makes you feel good that you got your point across.”

Donis said being nominated for Gems of the Valley is fantastic yet humbling.

“Service is a part of what makes the world go round,” she said. “There’s a lot of people out there who do it.”

Bruno said the effort Bob and Donis put into the youth is amazing.

“These young women benefited from Donis’ desire to teach them how to properly plant,” she said. “Donis told me last week that several of the young women are leaving the center and said they will come back on their own and continue planting with her. Donis has given these young women a skill and shown them that she cares about them as people, not for situations in their lives.”

Bruno said the duo has many great attributes that make them an asset to the community and deserving of the Gems of the Valley nomination.

“They embody what kindness is,” she said. “They bring out the best in those with whom they work. They give selflessly and without the desire to be recognized.”