This month Friends of Trees said farewell to two special staff members: Green Space Initiative Specialist Sean Sweeney and Individual Donor Relations Specialist Emma Gray.
Sean is entering the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program at Cascade Medical School and taking classes at Portland Community College to complete prerequisites for a Registered Nurse (RN) program. Emma is now Executive Director of the local nonprofit Marathon Education Partners.
Sean’s decision to study nursing was influenced in part by his visits to the ICU to see FOT Neighborhood Trees Specialist David Odom, who passed away in January. Sean was struck by how much David’s care differed depending on the nurse who was in charge. The experience underscored the importance of nurses, who are both conduits for the doctor’s medical instructions and caretakers for the patient and the patient’s family and friends. Being able to communicate “honestly and with empathy” is critical, Sean said.
Sean has enjoyed his work with Friends of Trees, “especially meeting and spending time with the Friends of Trees staff and volunteers.” Green Space Initiative Manager Logan Lauvray was impressed by the way Sean hit the ground running from the start and always planned ahead for upcoming program projects. He’s excited that Sean hopes to help FOT as a Green Space Initiative crew leader this fall and winter.
As Executive Director of Marathon Education Partners, Emma will work with Oregon and Washington public schools to match donors with elementary school students who have academic potential but no resources to access higher education. Each donor makes a ten-year commitment to an ongoing relationship to encourage and support the student and to a recurring financial contribution to the student’s higher education. The goal is to “fundamentally change the students’ future expectations,” said Emma.
With a 100 percent success rate to date, Emma is excited to help the organization fulfill its mission for even more students. “Accessing education is accessing opportunities for life,” she noted.
Despite her enthusiasm for her new nonprofit, Emma said that leaving Friends of Trees was like leaving a family. She’s met “amazing people” at FOT and was “honored to contribute, in my small way, to FOT’s vital work.”
Emma’s enthusiasm, creativity, outgoing personality, can-do attitude, and ability to move projects from concept to completion will be missed at FOT, said Communications Director Teri Ruch. Emma will continue organizing this month’s “Wine, Cheese & Trees” event, which she began planning several months ago. She will also continue working with FOT staff members Kris Day and Jesse Batty to plan David Odom’s memorial grove at the Columbia Children’s Arboretum.
Friends of Trees wishes Sean and Emma all the best in their new life ventures. We’re grateful for their many contributions to FOT and thrilled that they both plan to stay connected with us in the future.