Giving Garden Volunteer Rolls Up Her Sleeves to Give Back

Posted by Sarah Welch on Nov 9, 2017 9:25:16 AM

giving garden give back central iowa

This spring, when Arlette Mueller entered her Telligen office, she saw seedlings growing in trays across her coworker's desk. Soon, she would join the group of 20 volunteers who would plant those seedlings in the garden outside the Telligen building. Through the summer, she would take her turn to water and weed, and then into the fall, harvest the vegetables that would be delivered to the DMARC food pantry.

Learn about the Giving Gardens project


United Way of Central Iowa supports the work of eight organizations who  manage Giving Gardens in central Iowa.

This year, 258 volunteers gave 10,811 pounds of fresh produce to central Iowa food pantries that fed 4,364 central Iowans. 

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For Arlette, volunteering with Telligen's Giving Garden was as much about the chance to get fresh air and feel the sun during the work day as it was about giving in ways beyond donating to the Food Bank of Iowa every year.

In the past year, Telligen's Giving Garden produced 3,178 pounds of fresh produce that fed 1,271 people.

“I am proud to work for a company that goes to the length Telligen has to allow the garden on the lawn, and to support all different aspects of the garden from getting fencing around the space to allowing the employees to volunteer during work time," she said. "It's really a great way that the company supports the community and gives back."

Arlette Giving Garden Telligen Volunteer Central Iowa

She's especially passionate about providing fresh food to kids, having three kids of her own and knowing how much it takes to provide them what they need for healthy meals."I can't imagine them going hungry," she said, citing the Food Bank of Iowa's statistic that one in five kids in Iowa experiences hunger.

This year, Telligen had 20 volunteers who gave 100 hours to the garden. Arlette worked in the garden a couple of hours every other week. She especially appreciated the opportunity to participate as a contractor with Telligen's project management team, and will continue to volunteer as she becomes a full-time employee this winter.

Volunteering also gave Arlette the opportunity to meet other employees across the organization and to do something she’s interested in in a manageable way. She started her own garden at home but found the project too large to maintain by herself. 

Not only will she volunteer with the garden again next year, but she also actively participates in other opportunities such as packaging meals and staffing the Des Moines Arts Festival. Her inspiration to give back stems from seeing her mom give to those in need at the store, at church, and through many non-profits. 

“I like to think that if ever a day came that I would need help, I would look outward and find the help I would need as well. I think it’s important as humanity that we help others in need.”