Meet the Volunteers


Dorris Smith has been a resident of Donelson long enough to take her children…and now her grandchildren…. to storytime at the Donelson Library. For decades she has visited the library as a parent and grandparent. More recently, she has been visiting the library as a volunteer working for the Donelson Gateway Project. Her efforts are on full display in the gardens surrounding the main entrance.


When did you become involved with the library and the DGP?

Virginia Clark got me involved. I started going to the work days at the Briley Parkway site. When Derek Johnson established the beds at the Library, Virginia asked me to come and help. I always loved the library. My children and I would go there. It was our weekly outing. We’d go to story time and get books for the week. It is just a special place and so when we started working on the Library I thought….goodness I’d like to give something back. I got the idea for a bulb bed on the west side where the dogwood tree is, planting some minor bulbs in honor of my grandchildren. We started the bed and kept adding and adding. Virginia Clark moved away and it was left to Naomi Rensberger and I to manage, so we took charge and made it our own.

The people that would come up and ask us questions about the garden were trom toddles to the very elderly…and they said that they looked forward to coming to the library. It is clear that it makes a difference in the community.


Did you know much about gardening when you got involved?

I’ve been gardening all of my life. My dad bought for me my first rose bush for my rose garden when I was 12. He was a fruit grower so he knew a lot about horticulture. I got the love of it from him and my mother who loved flowers, they were both into gardening. The things I’ve learned are just trial and error through the years. I read books and watch the gardening shows, but I have no formal training. I tend to pick plants that have nice foliage and plants that you don’t have to struggle with. If plants are not happy, they are better off somewhere else. Naomi and I plant things that can survive on their own with just a little encouragement.


What does it mean to have an organization like the DGP in Donelson?

It brings community to the area. Without community, we are just a bunch of individuals fighting for what we want for ourselves. If you give to a common cause, you are invested in it and take ownership of it. The times we are living in now, we need to feel a little more secure…and it is great to live in a community where everyone cares. The community cares about the way things look and helping people who need help.


There is a new bench in your honor in the back of the Library.

I had no idea about the bench. It is the surprise of my life. I have never been so surprised over anything. It was a dear thing for the gateway to do, but everyone who is involved deserves a bench in my opinion. It meant a lot to me and my grandchildren. My grandchildren like coming to maw maw’s library, because their mother use to come to the library for story time and hear the stories…so to have a bench there with my name on it was very dear. The whole area could be cluttered with benches for everyone who has contributed to the library.


Why volunteer?

If you have just moved here or have been here all of your life, getting involved with some project can expand your world and at the same time…make it smaller. Since I’ve been volunteering, I’ve gotten to know so many people and my knowledge of what is going on in Donelson has grown. It is more of a village…kind of like where I grew up…everyone knows everyone. When you volunteer, it just adds so much to your life. It has always been a joy and it has brought me more than I have given.