As a Landscape Designer and the Restoration Chairman for Lynchburg's Old City Cemetery, Jane White has worked to turn the vision of a better natural environment for the citizens of Lynchburg into a reality. Her devoted volunteerism has been contagious, spreading to the hearts and minds of the many people who work with her to positively impact the physical environment of Lynchburg.
Jane White has been involved in numerous volunteer projects over the years; however her most outstanding project is the rehabilitation of the Old City Cemetery and the inner-city neighborhood surrounding it, Tinbridge Hill. Drugs, violence, prostitution and other social ills plagued this neighborhood for decades and Old City Cemetery existed in a state of disrepair and neglect. The area was used as a dump for everything ranging from paving stones to household appliances. By the early 1990's, the area was in such a bad state that few of the residents could take pride in their surroundings. Beginning in 1993, White launched a massive volunteer initiative to restore and beautify Old City Cemetery and Tinbridge Hill. Her guiding philosophy was simultaneous cemetery and neighborhood renewal.
White contributed generously to the project of her own time and talents—coordinating the cleanup and replanting of the cemetery, designing a butterfly garden and pond to reduce erosion and writing several brochures to increase awareness of horticulture and cemetery wildlife. However, White conceded that this undertaking required the help of many to be successful. She enlisted the help of numerous volunteers to repair the gravestones and record tombstone inscriptions for preservation. The Old City Cemetery is now one of the most highly regarded sanctuaries of history and natural beauty in the city. The environmental hazards of the Tinbridge Hill area were addressed. White's efforts prompted the city to demolish dilapidated houses and increase street lighting to reduce crime. Thanks to White, the safety and quality of life for Tinbridge Hill residents has been dramatically improved.
In this project and many others, Jane White is the common thread that connects individuals of different backgrounds and skills with community needs. From her universal appreciation for nature and for preserving historical sites, others are able to learn how volunteering can eliminate community problems and boost neighborhood unity and pride.