Dollars may all look alike, but every dollar given to Save the Redwoods League has its own story. I give to the League in honor of my dad, who set me in a wildflower meadow surrounded by redwood forest on our first drive up the California coast. I give for my son, who thinks every redwood tree is worth saving because “it might be the tallest tree in the world!”
In memory of luminary and humble friends, loved ones, children, and parents, the League has dedicated hundreds of redwood groves. And last week, I came to remember what an honor it is to be a caretaker of these memories.League President and CEO, Sam Hodder, and I drove to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park to visit with the Sanborn family, longtime supporters who have dedicated a redwood grove at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and are Canopy Club and Redwood Legacy Circle members. The Forest of Nisene Marks is a previously logged forest that was saved by three siblings in honor of their mother, a devoted lover of nature. Today, the park offers peaceful trails that wind through the forest that has regrown from ancient stumps.
As we talked in the forest, it became clear that the redwoods are a special place for the Sanborn family. The Sanborns’ daughter recalled trips to Muir Woods when she was young, leaving at the crack of dawn to avoid the crowds. Walking in the silence, the family felt the sacredness of the ancient groves. Originally from the East Coast, they especially liked to visit Muir Woods around Christmas, when the quaint visitor center in the cool, green forest was a reminder of the winter season not apparent in sunny California. As the Sanborns’ daughters grew up, the family made many trips to Muir Woods and the North Coast to be in the presence of the giant trees.
Having dreamed of dedicating a redwood grove through their estate, the Sanborns decided they wanted to appreciate a grove during their lifetime. In 2008, they dedicated the Sanborn Hawley Grove at Prairie Creek. While the redwood forest in their grove has changed over time, the grove has remained a place where their family connects.
This year, the grove took on new meaning, as it was the last place they visited as a family before suffering the heartbreaking loss of one of their daughters. Their grove, which was already a profoundly meaningful place, became a sacred place where their family is always together.
Sam wrote to the Sanborns after our visit, “There is something about the way the redwood forest makes us feel, how it connects us to the past and to each other. Our collective effort is better measured in the moments of joy, comfort, rejuvenation, and hope that are made possible in the forests we help protect. There is nothing that could motivate us more, or more completely inspire us to succeed, than taking that responsibility to heart.”
Save the Redwoods League is not only the guardian of our donors’ philanthropy but of the memories these gifts embody. To the Sanborns, and all of our donors, thank you for sharing your memories with us and entrusting Save the Redwoods League with your hopes for the future.
Do have a special memory of the redwoods you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.