Brookgreen Gardens represents everything I love. Nature, art, animals, and youth education. I really feel like my guardian angel led me to this place.
Jeanne Hughes credits a guardian angel with guiding her through the maze of life. At each bend in the road she's landed right where she needed to be. Growing up in the rural countryside of West Chester, PA nurtured her love of the outdoors, and the Girl Scouts planted an early seed of community service. After attending Immaculata University she settled into family life, raising a daughter and starting a career as a Veterinarian Tec. Over the next 20 years, her love of animals and community service would only grow.
Five years ago, Jeanne, now a widow, was retired and living alone. She looked out the window one winter day to endless piles of snow and decided it was time to move south. She landed in Pawleys Island, SC where she found Brookgreen Gardens and began to volunteer her time there.
"Brookgreen Gardens represents everything I love," Jeanne said. "Nature, art, animals, and youth education. I really feel like my guardian angel led me to this place."
The Gardens, which were established 85 years ago, are one the few places in the U.S. to have earned accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums as well as being designated a National Historic Landmark.
Her volunteerism led a friend to suggest Cabot's Reward Volunteers program, where Hughes could log her time served online. She registered and began logging hours. In February of 2015 she was selected as the Grand Prize winner of the Reward Volunteers program, punching her ticket to the Community Celebrity Award cruise.
Jeanne says that although she is thrilled to be honored with the award, volunteering has much deeper meaning and purpose for her. "I've never been a school teacher, but growing up I had many great teachers and volunteers in my life that afforded me a rich opportunity to learn," she said. "Not all kids are that lucky, and I have a deep desire to give back - and volunteering at the Gardens keeps me active and moving. I get as much out of it as I give."
Jeanne has a daughter, step daughter, and two step-grandchildren who live in Pennsylvania. In addition to volunteering, she stays active by attending fitness classes, and loves to read. She has a dog, Quincy, a six year old Cavalier King Charles spaniel and Winston, a fourteen year old Siamese mix cat. Jeanne will be bringing her daughter Lisa on the cruise.