Volunteer Spotlight: Robin Weinstein
Phipps is well-known for our beautiful gardens, seasonal flower shows, pioneering sustainability initiatives, informative educational programs and community outreach. None of our work, however, would be possible without the knowledge and dedication of our volunteers. In this series of profiles, we meet some of the people who give their time to make Phipps possible.
To Robin Weinstein, nurturing plants and nurturing people are one and the same. Robin had no way of knowing that her love of home gardening, sparked by her sister over twenty years ago, would eventually lead her to a job guiding visitors through the twisting paths of Phipps Conservatory—but that’s exactly what happened.
“I love beauty, I love flowers, I love nature,” Robin says. “I love the peaceful feeling that the Phipps experience gives me.” She generally volunteers two or three days out of her week, and relishes the opportunity to meet so many people from different countries and cultures who share her love for green spaces and good conversations.
On an average day, Robin might greet a throng of guests just inside the Palm Court, snap a family photo in the sunny South Conservatory, or find other ways to help people “remember how special they felt when they were here.” She often points guests in the direction of the Sunken Garden—her favorite spot—or the Tropical Forest Conservatory, which first-time visitors often overlook. It’s impossible to witness Robin’s contagious enthusiasm and intimate knowledge without cracking a smile. “Volunteering at Phipps has not been a job,” she shares. “It is a passion, a labor of love.”
Robin uses the same phrase, “labor of love,” to describe her own gardening practice at home. “I love to feel the dirt and feed the flowers,” she says. “It’s really serene for me. “ Whether she’s posing people in front of a towering palm tree or giving out directions to the Butterfly Garden, Robin applies this same generous attitude of cultivation to all her interactions with visitors. The best part of her day is watching guests, especially young children, discover nature’s extravagance and beauty.
“I remember this little girl,” Robin shares. “She came in and immediately went ‘Oh my God!’ And then ‘Geez, Louise!’ She was so excited. It was kind of funny, but still really cute. Her mom and I just looked at each other and smiled.” It is these charming moments that keep Robin coming back week after week to the place she lovingly calls “our city’s gem.”