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Spotlight on Our Volunteers

The Heart of Portland Japanese Garden

Photo by Jonathan Ley.

Our volunteers are the heart of Portland Japanese Garden,” says Catherine Montgomery, Director of Volunteer Programs. “They are individuals that take time away from their families, friends, and work, and donate that time to us because they believe in our mission of Inspiring Harmony & Peace. Is there anything more powerful or selfless than that? Truly, we could not operate the Garden without our volunteers.” Later this month, we will be celebrating our wonderful volunteers with an appreciation event (August 23, 2022), but we are truly grateful for their commitment and generosity every day.

Catherine Montgomery, Director of Volunteer Programs at Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Jonathan Ley.

We have a variety of roles within volunteers, and many of our volunteers take on more than one responsibility:

  • Bonsai docents welcome people to the Ellie M. Hill Bonsai Terrace and educate the public about Japanese culture and the art of bonsai.
  • Exhibition docents greet visitors to our Pavilion gallery and educate them about the art on display. Event volunteers help staff our cultural festivals and receptions throughout the year.
  • Office volunteers work alongside Portland Japanese Garden staff to complete projects for our Executive, Membership, and Development departments.
  • Tour guides lead public, private, and school tours of the Garden, providing context and background on our amazing spaces.
Photo by Peter Friedman.

Seeking Volunteers!

Interested in volunteering? We have a variety of different roles all with different tasks suited to different interests and personalities. After 40 hours of service, volunteers receive a voucher towards a Portland Japanese Garden individual membership. Contact Catherine Montgomery, Director of Volunteer Programs at or (503) 223-9233.

Number of Active Volunteers in Each Role

Volunteer Impact, By the Numbers

3,651Total hours given by volunteers as of June, 2022. This equates to roughly 3 full-time staff members.
1,000Free, public tours projected to be given this year.
42The years that our longest serving volunteer, Aase Kendall, has spent giving back to the Garden.
14The number of languages spoken by our volunteers.
5The number of volunteers who have given more than 1,000 total service hours of their free time to the Garden: Dick Doi, Al Horn, Polly Lauser, Garth Massey, and Mona Ozaki.
1We always have one volunteer represented on our Board of Trustees.
200We have more than 200 volunteers who take on multiple roles.