By Jennifer Moore Gaston
Women’s Fund of Smith County

Long before there was social media, there were gardens.

As the daughter of a third generation rose grower – I grew up with rose fields as far as the eye could see and vegetable gardens that filled an acre. The garden was filled with all the usual East Texas favorites: cabbage, corn, cream peas (my favorite), eggplant, green beans and butter beans, new potatoes, okra, peppers of all kinds, purple hull peas, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and more! The garden was as beautiful and as fragrant as the Tyler roses in the adjacent field.

The best part of the garden was family – being together and working together. The problem with the garden was there was too much food for our family – so we shared the bountiful harvest with family and neighbors.     

I will not gloss over the fact that it was work – real work. I will also note that I did not love getting up early, digging potatoes or shelling peas! While digging potatoes and covered with dirt from head to toe, I looked up to ask my daddy, “Why can’t we buy our potatoes at Brookshire’s like everyone else?” My mother often recalls how much I disliked shelling peas (loved to eat them, not shell them). In an effort to avoid the task, I once shelled a few peas then proceeded to rub my eyes – resulting in something akin to a severe allergic reaction and eyes swollen shut. Let me be clear, I would always rather get up early and go to the rose field and garden with my daddy, than stay home and cook – or shell peas. (No offense to my mother!)

Aside from the hard work and these incidents from the garden, I loved the time together with my parents and grandparents. The days of thorning budwood for the roses, weeding the garden, shelling peas, and digging potatoes made me the person I am today. I like to work. I believe the best assets anyone can have include a strong work ethic and a giving heart. The lessons learned and examples set by my parents and grandparents relate well to the world beyond the garden.

In our world – globally and locally, we need to like, love, and share like never before. Just like the garden, our world is filled with work to be done and rewards to be shared.

I have had the honor and pleasure of volunteering with many worthy causes throughout my fifty-seven years as a Tylerite. I find joy in being part of a variety of causes – for those in need; for the arts and culture; for health and wellness; for education; for animals; for women and children; and the list goes on and on. If it makes our community a better place, then why not!

Giving well does not just mean writing a check. Giving well does not just mean volunteering. Giving well means liking the cause; devoting your time and talents to the cause; sharing your enthusiasm and bringing the cause to the forefront for others to be able to like, love and share.

Not sure where to get started? Well, like the list of garden vegetables, make a list of your interests and plant a seed. Try out one, two or three. Just like the garden, variety is best.

There are ways to give well as an individual, a couple, a family, a business, or a corporation. The simple act of coming together for a cause builds unity and camaraderie. The value on the return to the cause and community when you share a common bond is simply priceless. From your local church to the corporate golf tournament, opportunities abound locally and globally.

That brings me back to social media. Sometimes we just want to turn it off and say so long forever. But sometimes a simple like, love, and share can make all the difference to a non-profit that depends on your sphere of influence to get the word out about their cause and fundraising endeavors. 

Grow your garden of giving – like, love and share.

Just like the garden, the Women’s Fund of Smith County is a great way to come together and work together. The Women’s Fund of Smith County believes that together is better. Through collective giving we transform our community by funding programs that enrich the lives of women and children. If you are a woman with a giving heart, I invite you to join our circle. Please visit or call 903-509-1771.  

Jennifer Moore Gaston, Editor-in-Chief of TYLER TODAY Magazine, is a proud member of the Women’s Fund of Smith County – a collective giving circle of more than 300 women with a mission of transforming our community by funding programs that enrich the lives of women and children. Any woman with a giving heart is welcome to join our organization. Please visit for information about membership