December 2011 Volunteer of the Month Cheryl Hardy             

 For many citizens of Columbia a leisurely bike ride through the park is just that, a break from everyday life. For our December volunteer of the month that leisurely bike ride is just another way she is serving our community. Volunteer Cheryl Hardy is a dedicated cyclist who is very familiar with the trails and parks in Columbia and has been a great source of information regarding trail quality and conditions.

Cheryl has used her knowledge of the city and her love for the environment to make a difference through several programs such as the Hinkson Clean Sweep, TreeKeepers, Cleanup Columbia, and many more over the past ten years she has been volunteering.

David Dittmer, Forester with Columbia Parks & Recreation, says, “Volunteers like Cheryl, who dedicate significant amounts of their free time for the betterment of the community, play a huge role in building a progressive city which aims to make the quality of life better for all its citizens. Quality parks and trails and healthy aquatic systems all help to make Columbia a great place to live, and Cheryl has been an active part of all these things.”

~Written by volunteer Brittany Perrin

November 2011 Volunteer of the Month The Jones Family

 Volunteering is contagious; when you find something you can’t get enough of, you can’t help but share it with everyone else. This is certainly the case for our November Volunteers of the Month, the Jones family. Willie Jones first started volunteering for the city over four years ago when he signed up to photograph the annual Cleanup Columbia event. Photography was a passion of his and he was excited to use his talents to serve the city.

After that volunteer experience Willie was hooked and couldn’t wait to get other people in his life on board. It was easy to recruit his wife, Debbie, and their daughter, Kia, and they have since made volunteering a priority for their family. One volunteer event the Jones’ have come to look forward to each year is the annual First Night event held on New Year’s Eve in downtown Columbia.

When asked about why their family enjoys volunteering, Willie says it’s quite simple, “Our family really loves this city and enjoys the plethora of experiences and facilities it provides for the citizens. Volunteering for the City is our way of giving thanks for those opportunities and giving back to a place that has given us so much.”

~Written by volunteer Brittany Perrin

October 2011 Volunteer of the Month Nancy Rezabek

 October’s Volunteer of the Month, Nancy Rezabek, has a real heart for helping others whether it’s at work or during her free time. As a Registered Nurse, Nancy spends her time helping patients at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center and her time off volunteering for the City of Columbia.

Nancy has been volunteering for the city since 2003 and is active in Park Patrol and TreeKeepers. She also helps out with events such as Polar Bear Plunge for the Special Olympics, Bike Walk and Wheel Week, and the Hinkson Clean Sweep.

Volunteer Programs Assistant, Lisa Rohmiller, says, “As a champion of outdoor activities, Nancy sets a positive example for others, whether working at a Bike, Walk and Wheel Week breakfast station, cutting out invasive Honeysuckle and Callery Pear trees, or wrapping bare-root tree seedlings for the Arbor Day Tree Giveaway.   When the public sees her in service, perhaps they stop to think they can provide a similar service to the community.”

Dave Dittmer, the City’s Forester, has similar wonderful things to say about Nancy, “She has a great go-getter attitude, and obviously cares quite a bit about the quality of life in Columbia.”

~Written by volunteer Brittany Perrin

September 2011 Volunteer of the Month Teressa Litchfield         

 After experiencing Columbia’s lush, green trails and beautiful creeks, then moving to the sandy deserts of Southern California, our August Volunteer of the Month can really appreciate the age old adage “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone”. The beautiful scenery offered by our cozy spot in the Midwest is one of many things that brought Teressa and Ted Litchfield back to Columbia, and it’s one of many reasons she has dedicated her time to this city.

Teressa is a volunteer for the Columbia Aquatic Restoration Project (CARP), TreeKeepers, Cleanup Columbia and the Hinkson Clean Sweep. She has a special place in her heart for keeping the city clean and beautiful.

“Most people don’t realize how big of an effect their small actions have on the environment. Litter thrown out of a car window eventually makes its way to the creeks that flow throughout Columbia,” Teressa says.

Small actions can have big positive effects as well. Volunteering a few hours a year for events like the Hinkson Clean Sweep keeps hundreds of pounds of trash out of our water and makes a big impact in preserving the beautiful Columbia landmarks we have come to love and appreciate.

~Written by volunteer Brittany Perrin

August 2011 Volunteer of the Month Don Williams              

 

Most of our outstanding City of Columbia volunteers have expressed that their service is one way they demonstrate their love for the city. As for our July Volunteer of the Month, Don Williams, he illustrates his love for the City of Columbia by volunteering to teach others why they should love our city as well. Don is a member of the Columbia Hospitality Corps and volunteers his time at the Lake of the Woods Columbia Visitor Center.

Don is recognized as an outstanding volunteer for the city having logged over 500 hours in the two years that he has spent greeting visitors, answering questions, and providing helpful information and directions to area hotels, restaurants, parks, trails and shopping at the Visitor Center.

Many of us may be guilty of taking this wonderful city for granted and could all probably learn a thing or two from Don about what great things Columbia has to offer. So next time you are heading past the Lake of the Woods exit on I-70 consider stopping by the Visitor Center to learn something new about Columbia. While you are there, say hi to Don or one of the other wonderful City of Columbia volunteers!  

~Written by volunteer Brittany Perrin

July 2011 Volunteer of the Month Mahree Skala

 Most of us sat and watched the tragic events unfold over the last month since the Joplin tornado, many of us asking and searching for ways to help, opportunities to contribute. This month we reveal an opportunity to get involved and help prepare our community for potential disasters like those that have devastated towns across the country.

The Medical Reserve Corps is an organization that our June Volunteer of the Month- Mahree Skala, became involved with about 6 years ago when the MRC was just beginning. Through monthly meetings, trainings, and practice drills MRC members help prepare the city to respond to natural or man-made disasters. They are also involved in fairs and health clinics throughout the year.

When asked about her interest in the Columbia/ Boone County MRC Mahree said, “I have worked in public health most of my life, when I retired I thought [the MRC] would be a perfect place to use my training and experience.”

The MRC is a great opportunity for both individuals with medical backgrounds AND those without to serve the city and help prepare for potential disasters. This month, we commend Mahree and all of the volunteers out there who have dedicated their time and service towards disaster relief. 

~Written by volunteer Brittany Perrin

June 2011 Volunteer of the Month Roger Gadbois

 

In order to maintain the thousands of trees in Columbia the City turns not only to staff, but also to dedicated volunteers such as June’s Volunteer of the Month, Roger Gadbois. Roger’s dedication to keeping trees healthy led him to devote time and resources to that cause. An idea of Roger’s led to a new volunteer program in the Public Works Department called STAT, the Street Tree Assessment Team.   STAT now involves 15 knowledgeable volunteers caring for hundreds of trees around Columbia.  Roger also contributed an idea to use drainage pipe around the base of newly planted trees to protect from mower damage, and went a step further providing the piping at his own expense, says Chad Herwald, City Arborist.

Chad speaks very highly of Roger’s volunteered service to Columbia and feels that Roger is making a real difference in the City. “In an economy where budgets and jobs are being cut, he offers us eyes and ears into the community to aid us in providing a healthy product for the citizens of Columbia,” he said. Roger’s passion for maintaining healthy trees has helped with storm runoff and in capturing carbon emissions – lowering Columbia’s carbon footprint.

~Written by volunteer Bryan Goers.

May 2011 Volunteers of the Month Alpha Phi Omega

 Our May volunteers of the month have taken “spring cleaning” to a whole new level, and fall and winter for that matter! The volunteers of the month are members of the Mizzou Beta Eta chapter of Alpha Phi Omega (APO), a national co-ed service fraternity. The men and women of APO have spent several hours, rain or shine or ice and snow, helping to collect trash and debris from our local streets water ways over the past two years.

APO members are standout volunteers for their unconditional dedication. Stormwater Educator for Columbia Public Works, Mike Heimos, brags, “[APO] is a great group of young men and women, who show up no matter what the conditions. This past year they cleaned Rock Quarry Road twice with the Public Works Street Department, both times walking the full length of the road and picking up trash before it went into the Hinkson Creek in freezing rain and ice cold temperatures!” 

Volunteering has obvious benefits for our community, but it also has wonderful benefits for our volunteers. Volunteering is a great way to meet people with similar values and passion for helping others. APO recognizes that college is a time to meet others who may change their lives completely. Members focus their energy on volunteering but are encouraged to volunteer in groups to help foster lasting friendships.

~Written by volunteer Brittany Perrin

April 2011 Volunteers of the Month Monica Frank and Telisa Anderson 

For those of us who have spent anytime living in Mid-Missouri, we know that claiming the weather is “inconsistent” can be a drastic understatement. While the unpredictable weather may hinder some of our daily activities and events, it has yet to faze our April Volunteer(s) of the Month! Come rain or shine you can find Monica Frank and Telisa Anderson volunteering two Saturdays a month for the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection program.

Whether they are welcoming citizens who are bringing materials to the event, passing out reference materials, or answering questions they are always smiling and a joy to be around.

“These enthusiastic ladies help increase overall awareness of Columbia’s recycling program and are appreciated for their friendliness and willingness to help!” says Volunteer Supervisor- Andrea Shelton.

Ready to help out whenever they are needed, these women have also stepped up to fill additional roles such as leading the 2010 Fall HHW Student Volunteers or serving as the recycling mascot, Mr. Bag-It at area events! Monica and Telisa are perfect examples of how dedicated volunteers can really make a difference in the city.

~Written by volunteer Brittany Perrin

March 2011 Volunteer of the Month Janet Hammen        

One thing you might find in common with a lot of Columbia’s stand out volunteers is that once they start volunteering for the city they just can’t get enough! This is definitely the story for our March Volunteer of the Month, Janet Hammen, who has been volunteering for the City of Columbia for more than ten years. When asked what keeps her coming back, Janet says it’s all about the people, “The best part about volunteering for the City of Columbia is the people you get to meet and work with and the relationships you build over time.”

Janet has volunteered for Columbia in several capacities, one being her participation in the East Campus Neighborhood Association. Janet has spent countless hours assisting staff members in sifting through boxes of rental records and helping to digitalize the documents for future use.

There is no doubt that city employees appreciate Janet as much as she appreciates them. Office of Neighborhood Services Manager, Leigh Britt says, “We appreciate the work Janet has done to communicate with the City on issues important to her neighborhood as well as the many hours she is spending working in our office.”

~Written by volunteer Brittany Perrin

February 2011 Volunteer of the Month Jim Schepers

While the New Year is in full swing it’s not too late to add the use of your time and talents as a volunteer to your resolutions list. Fair warning from our February Volunteer of the Month, Jim Schepers, though, “Once you start [volunteering], it becomes addicting”.

For Jim that addiction to volunteering began when he became a charter member of the Columbia Aquatic Restoration Project (C.A.R.P.). As a C.A.R.P. volunteer Jim assists in aquatic park management and maintenance for ponds, streams, lakes and rain gardens. When Jim learned of the new project several years ago he decided it was right down his alley. As an avid water foul hunter, Jim had preexisting interest in aquatic restoration, but enjoys C.A.R.P. because of the various new preservation techniques he has learned.

Jim’s passion and talents have certainly not gone unnoticed and he is not the only one benefiting from his volunteer experience. Jen Courtney, Horticulturist and supervisor for C.A.R.P. says, “Jim’s enthusiasm and humor add so much to the events. His hard work and fun nature keep everyone he works with excited about the work they are involved in. His efforts really are having a positive influence on water quality in the Columbia area.”

~Written by volunteer Brittany Perrin

January 2011 Volunteer of the Month Dina Charlton

January’s Volunteer of the Month, Dina Charlton, like many of Columbia’s volunteers, doesn’t just stand out purely for the time she donates every month. Dina Charlton is being recognized this month because of the enthusiasm and passion she brings to her many positions with Special Olympics a Sports Coordinator, a Coach, a Chaperone, and an office volunteer.

Dina started her adventure as a Special Olympics volunteer at a single day event that introduced her to a wonderful opportunity to continue donating her talents and service for Columbia. “For me, I decided to try something I thought would interest me. I quickly realized I wasn’t satisfied with volunteering for just single day events and I wanted to pursue more opportunities to help out with Special Olympics,” Dina said. When asked about advice she would give future volunteers, Dina said you just have to keep trying things out until you find what you love.

Just as much as Dina loves volunteering, the athletes and volunteer coordinators love having her around. Dina’s supervisor Jody Cook says, “The athletes have blossomed and excelled under her guidance. The teacher in her is ever-present; everyone around her grows from her involvement and dedication. She brings life, fun and learning to all she touches.”

~Written by volunteer Brittany Perrin