Kat – A Partner in the Garden

February 2, 2022
Kat sitting in chair next to garden box

As the owner of a local landscape design company specializing in California native plants, Kat Weiss is a self-proclaimed “gardening freak.” She says her path to becoming a donor and volunteer for Sunflower Hill was serendipitous. A native to Livermore, Kat had a keen interest in Hagemann Ranch back when Mr. Hagemann was growing thousands of native California Blue Oaks in 5-gallon pots. She says that at some point after Mr. Hagemann passed away and the land had been purchased by the city, she noticed a new garden forming where the rows of potted Blue Oaks once stood, and was thrilled to learn that there would be an organic garden in the middle of Livermore.

Kat standing with her daughter and other NCL volunteers in the garden
Kat and her daughter volunteering with several NCL – Livermore mothers and daughters.

But it wasn’t until the spring of 2020, when she and her daughter joined the National Charity League, a local non-profit organization designed to encourage volunteering opportunities for mothers and their daughters, and Kat was assigned as the philanthropy liaison to Sunflower Hill that she really learned about our programs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and the Irby Ranch community in Pleasanton. As she began volunteering and learning more about the organization, she realized that program participants were in the Garden harvesting organic produce that was then donated to non-profits in the community. It was a “full circle” moment of realization. “The cool factor went up,” she said. She decided to increase her involvement and become a Sunflower Partner monthly donor. “Giving money (to Sunflower Hill) makes me more invested. I get a lot more out of it than I put in,” she said.

Kat trimming a zinnia flower. Daughter in backgroundKat, who is energetic and seems to always have a smile on her face, enjoys having her “fingers in the community.” She says that “it feels good to be a provider of consistent money. I can see the results (of my giving) and see that it’s doing good and that I’m making a difference.” As a Sunflower Partner monthly donor, she also receives exclusive perks including handwritten notes from Irby Ranch residents, which she says are “awesome,” and exclusive newsletters, which are “above and beyond (and feel) personalized.”

In addition to being a monthly donor, Kat also volunteers (with and without NCL) in the Garden. She says she loves the “hands-on nature” of volunteering and that it’s very meaningful to her because she can see the benefits that adults with I/DD “derive from being outside and doing the garden work.” Kat also enjoys the rapidly changing environment that is endemic to a garden. “I learn something new every time I’m here,” she said. Some of her favorite volunteer moments include working alongside “the two Kyle’s.” (We have two young men both named Kyle who volunteer in the Garden. One was mentioned in a previous blog article on Shadow, the Cat.) Kat feels both Kyle’s bring a lot of energy and conversation to the Garden environment!

Kat and her daughter standing among the zinnia flowersWe are especially appreciative of Kat’s engagement and involvement as a monthly donor and Garden volunteer. Her generous and consistent contributions enable us to continue to pursue our mission to create places and spaces where adults with I/DD live, work, learn, and thrive as part of the greater community. Thank you, Kat!

Would you like to join Kat and others and become a Sunflower Partner monthly donor? Learn more!

Interested in volunteering? We have opportunities in the Garden and at Irby Ranch in Pleasanton. Learn more!


Inspired by this article? Donate today!


Story by: Michael Roberts, Sunflower Hill Annual Giving Manager and Rachel Clark, Sunflower Hill Communications Manager

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