Summer is for relaxing and heading to the beach, but we know some volunteers who also manage to find time to help out their schools during vacation season.

One such volunteer is Cathi Knickrehm, a recipient of our SBLI Superstar Volunteers program. Knickrehm helped create an amazing garden at the Hatch Elementary School in Oak Park, Ill., and she spends many a summer day tending to the vegetables and herbs. The “Hatch Patch” garden has become a community effort with many volunteers (including kids) who love spending time together and working on behalf of the school.

Hatch Patch team receiving their SBLI award!



The SBLI Superstar Volunteer program is a team effort of PTO Today and SBLI (The Savings Bank Life Insurance Company of Massachusetts). Launched in January, the program gives well-deserved national recognition to school volunteers who are nominated by their peers. We profile these superstars on our site and SBLI donates $500 to each superstar’s school! So far, there have been a dozen Superstar Volunteer winners and we’ll be selecting six more before the end of the September.

Knickrehm said Hatch used the SBLI award to purchase a raised garden bed that will enable kids with physical disabilities to garden. “We had been thinking about adding a raised bed for some time, but never had the money in our budget,’’ Knickrehm said. “The timing of this $500 award was perfect!”

And our most recently selected SBLI superstar, Sabina Ernst of Renaissance Middle School in Montclair, N.J., also shares her gardening skills with the school community. This SBLI winner is a veterinarian who loves helping kids learn about all things science, and that includes her successful effort to revamp what had been a long-dormant garden. Now she’s helping the students grow herbs, including lavender, which they harvest and use to make sachets that they give to senior citizens.

Read more about Knickrehm and Ernst, along with the stories about other SBLI Superstar Volunteers here.

And, if you know of a great volunteer like these two women, nominate them as a Superstar Volunteer here. Maybe you know one of those heroes who puts in the time through the heat of the summer or perhaps you know an all-around superstar. Either way, let us know about them so we can give them national recognition!