[Monte & Jerry's 2nd Annual Garden Party]
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by M. Schleif Photography
On the anniversary of the day Monte Jones and Jerry Erbstoesser first met, 16 years ago, they hosted their second annual Garden Party fundraiser at their home in West Fargo. Once again, with the help of their neighbors and lead sponsor and employer, Delta Hotels by Marriot, they raised nearly $5,300 for the YWCA Cass Clay. This month, we take you on an inclusive tour of their August 18th event, where we gathered in the garden that grows for good.
As one of the area's most notorious host couples, Jones and Erbstoesser like nothing more than to gather everyone they know and hopefully meet a few they don't. Every gathering they organize is based around the idea of inclusivity - meaning, everyone's invited. On a mission to give back to the community they love, their garden parties have turned into a neighborhood effort with a silent auction, yard games, food, cocktails, music - and even a petting zoo.
Gardening for Good
Meandering around to the back of Monte and Jerry's West Fargo home, we scouted out the garden to catch a glimpse of their relaxing, backyard retreat. Here, guests are encouraged to take a tour through the gazebo to the wildflowers, ponds, bird baths and whimsical settings - in hopes they'll stop to smell the flowers. Jones has spent two summers here honing his gardening skills, and is always at work gathering rocks, placing stepping stones, bird baths, and an array of floral he aptly names after Hollywood characters - a sentimental nod to his early years in theater. Even though Erbstoesser does not have the green thumb, he also has designated areas of sentiment, like the rare Calla Lily near the entrance and the center Serenity bench, which he's dedicated to his late father.
"The garden that Mother Nature shares with me is just lovely, and I think if you're in a position to do something that you love, and you're able to do that for another purpose, you should do it," said Jones. When I think about this garden, none of the work comes to mind, it's only the enjoyment of it that sticks in my head," said Jones. "The fact that other people love it is even better."
“Jerry and Monte’s kindness in holding a Garden Party and opening their home to support a nonprofit organization is remarkable. At YWCA we focus on serving those facing violence and homelessness and it's clear both Jerry and Monte have a special place in their hearts to make a difference in people’s lives. YWCA is grateful to be part of this unique event for families, the neighborhood and our entire community.”
Garden Party Goals
While this year was another great success, last year had them raising nearly $5,000 for United Way of Cass-Clay. Although this is the second annual Garden Party, this is their third fundraising event since moving to West Fargo; they also hosted a holiday soiree their first winter, raising funds for Fargo's Emergency Food Pantry.
While September 2020 is a year away, Jones and Erbstoesser are already in planning mode to host a third Garden Party, this time with proceeds benefitting the North Dakota Special Olympics. "The neighbors are really supportive and already talking about what to do next year; I think they get just as excited about doing this as we do," said Erbstoesser. "It's just the most incredible neighborhood," added Jones.
Garden Party Sponsors:
While this year brought in over 30 silent auction sponsors, Jones and Erbstoesser relied on Delta Hotels by Marriot as the event's lead sponsor, along with generous support and donations from Happy Harry's Bottle Shop, MixVibes DJ Service & Lighting and Rusty K Ranch Petting Zoo.
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