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Discovering peace and joy in the Garden

Amber Siever grew up in the small town of Britt, Iowa. Her parents lived on a farm and spent time volunteering for everything from church and 4-H to kids' sports teams and their various activities. She grew up knowing that when people needed help, she needed to pitch in.

Amber is the team leader of Marketing Strategy & Initiatives and has been at Wellmark for 17 years. She started volunteering to show her kids that part of being a “good human” is showing up and helping. For the last six years, one of the places she has been volunteering is the Greater Des Moines Botanical Center External Link.

Volunteering at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

From PTA mom to Friend of the Garden

“After my kids finished elementary school, I was done being a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) mom,” Amber said. “And I wanted to volunteer somewhere I preferred. There’s so much need and sadness in the world and volunteering is a way to make it better. It’s hard to be sad at the Botanical Garden, which is a place of peace, joy and discovery for me.”

Friends of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden External Link is a volunteer leadership council made up of volunteers who work with the Garden’s staff throughout the year. Last year, Amber served as chair of the committee and represented the loyal volunteers on the Botanical Center’s Board. She has been a “Friend” for four years and does work for many of the Garden’s outreach programs. Amber greets guests to the Garden, and as an education volunteer, interacts with them on specific plant topics. Her favorite being demonstrations about the Garden’s collection of scented geraniums or pelagorniums, which smell like everything from candy, apples, lemons, mint, pine trees and stinky socks.

“You ask the guest to rub the leaves and smell it,” she said. “People are always amazed by these plants. Seeing the happiness on the faces of children and adults who are visiting the garden for the first time is so rewarding. Plus, the staff and volunteers at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Center have become my friends.”

Volunteering with a mission in mind

The Wellmark Foundation matches an employee's personal volunteer hours with monetary contributions to an eligible nonprofit organization of their choice. At the end of each month Amber logs her volunteer hours through the BluesCare Giving Program.

“I like volunteering with a project or mission in mind,” she said. “And I like being able to direct funding to tangible things that an organization might not be able to fund without support. At the kids’ schools, BluesCare Giving dollars have helped purchase new gym equipment, books, art supplies, tables for science fairs and the building of a new playground.”

In being able to give funding to something that mattered to her kids she became a champion of the program. In addition to BluesCare Giving designation funds, she also uses matching gift to increase the impact of her family’s smaller, charitable donations, such as memorial gifts.

“There are a couple of causes at the Botanical Garden I have in mind for future BluesCare Giving dollars that can be used as ‘seed money’ (pun intended),” Amber said. “The Garden manages the green space from the Women of Achievement Bridge all the way to University Avenue, including the current outdoor gardens, dome, the Robert D. Ray Asian Garden and some undeveloped land that they are looking to build on over the next few years.”

About BluesCare Giving

The Wellmark Foundation’s BluesCare Giving program provides necessary funding to eligible nonprofit organizations. Employees may earn the opportunity to designate dollars by volunteering or through a dollar-for-dollar matching gift donation to a qualified nonprofit organization of their choice. To find out if your nonprofit organization is eligible for the BluesCare Giving program, contact Send Email.