Volunteer of the Month for December 2017-Michal Zigo

Michal Zigo

Michal Zigo is the renaissance man of volunteering. He can be found at the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri, Household Hazardous Waste Collection, park and stream clean-ups or Parks and Rec events. “I am the type of person who finds manual work soothing and relaxing,” Zigo said. “As a researcher I mostly conduct intellectual work, therefore I don’t get to do a lot of work with my hands.”

The City of Columbia Volunteer Programs considers themselves lucky to have him. “He has great leadership skills and brings a lot of personal experience and interest to everything,” said Jody Cook, a Volunteer Programs Specialist.

As a trained Recycling Ambassador, Michal helps with many education projects on waste reduction and recycling, whether it’s tabling events, picking up litter or helping with children’s activities.

One of Michal’s most memorable volunteering experiences was cleaning up along Rock Quarry scenic road and filling an entire truck with litter. “The saddest part for me was that when I drove by two weeks later, it was littered again,” he said. 

Michal approaches his volunteering experiences with an international lens and therefore finds meeting new and interesting people one of the best parts about volunteering in the community. He is from Slovakia and then attended school in Czech Republic. “There are not as many volunteering opportunities at home,” Zigo said. He encourages everyone to volunteer when they can.

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website or contact us by phone at (573) 874-7499 or by email at volunteer@CoMO.gov.


Written by Volunteer Laura Davis

Volunteer of the Month for November 2017-Judy Bock

Volunteer Judy Bock

For Judy Bock, recycling, composting and gardening are second nature. After retiring from nursing and journalism, Bock got involved in volunteering through the city of Columbia, City of Refuge and the Wardrobe. The City of Columbia Volunteer Programs has allowed her to use her passion for waste reduction to educate others.

Bock enjoys teaching children at Lunch in the Park and school science days about reducing their own waste and proper recycling techniques. “Some kids are more interested in it than others,” Bock said.

Bock is also an active Park Patrol volunteer, and enjoys this leisurely assignment. “I kill two birds with one stone; I walk my dog on the trail and get exercise.” Bock listens to audiobooks while picking up trash along the trail. She’s a smiling face on the trail to let people know that there’s someone caring for our trails and improving safety.

Bock’s dedication and generous spirit make her an asset to the City of Columbia’s team of volunteers. “All the people involved in the volunteer program are so much fun that helping doesn’t feel like work.” Bock said.

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, contact us at (573) 874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Laura Davis

Volunteer of the Month for October 2017-John Gage

John Gage

In the 1997 class of Leadership Columbia, John Gage met Kenny Greene.  At that moment, Tai Chi became part of John’s life.  John’s experience in learning Traditional Chinese Medicine enables him to help himself and those around him.  As a result, John joined the City of Columbia Volunteer Programs to become a volunteer Qigong instructor for the Columbia Parks and Recreation Community Recreation Program located at the Armory.   John believes that in giving we receive and that the life energy in our body can be calm to erratic.  We make the difference and so our choices matter.  Therefore, John chooses to help others through life’s energy experience of Qigong.

John’s passion for Qigong and teaching others has been a great resource for the community.   Community Recreation Supervisor, Camren Cross, said because John gives him time every week he is able to provide a healthy activity at no cost to our residents. John can be found at the Armory teaching Tai Chi every Tuesday and Thursday at 8:30 a.m.  We thank John for his years of dedicated service to our city.

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website or contact us by phone at (573) 874-7499 or by email at volunteer@CoMO.gov.

Volunteer of the Month for September 2017-The Froidl Family

The Froidl Family
  For Molly Froidl and her family, volunteering is second nature. She and her husband Tom began volunteering around Columbia more than ten years ago when she picked up trash at Cleanup Columbia. It was only natural that her sons Josh, 14, and Drew, 12, joined them. The family now regularly volunteers at Cleanup Columbia, Ronald McDonald House and The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri. Her sons have also participated in Youth In Action, which provides teens an organized chance to volunteer during the summer months.   

     “It’s nice to see them do things that they would normally have to be nagged about at home, like picking up trash or making a meal,” Froidl said. Josh and Drew are also Boy Scouts, which requires them to be involved regularly, but Froidl said both of her sons are those kids who hear about a volunteer opportunity and has to sign up.  

     Volunteering gives her sons a chance to have fun. Two years ago they took turns dressing up as Mr. Bag-It at the Columbia Earth Day festival in Peace Park. Froidl reminisces, “Drew was so little at the time that people kept saying that they were so cute.” More than anything, Froidl appreciates that it allows them to be active members of society. “Every time we volunteer, we love Columbia and its people even more,” Froidl said. “We look forward to the next event when we can help spread our love of this great city.”
 Written by volunteer Laura Davis

Volunteer of the Month for August 2017-Quinn Cunningham

Quinn Cunningham

Rock Bridge High School student Quinn Cunningham noticed the need for container recycling at his school, and knew he had to lead the charge. To ensure that something was being done, Cunningham teamed up with the city and conducted a waste audit at the school in February. Under his leadership, a group of four other students sorted through 140 trash bags from just one school day. The group separated recyclable containers, recyclable fibers and trash. This resulted in 58 pounds of recyclable containers and 69 pounds of recyclable fibers recovered.

Since the audit, Cunningham has been challenged by the Columbia Public Schools budget restrictions, but was awarded a grant to purchase recycling bins for the school. Cunningham helped form a recycling team that will service the bins that can be picked up by the city’s Solid Waste Utility.

Cunningham’s quick work to get the grant on the school board’s agenda proves that one person’s action and commitment to change can make a difference. Thanks to Cunningham’s commitment to waste-reduction, the school will have a recycling program for the 2017-2018 school year.

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website, contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or email volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Laura Davis.

Volunteer of the Month for July 2017-Carol Schultz

Carl Schultz

Carol Schultz is a familiar face at many of the City’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau events.  She began as a Columbia Tourism Ambassador (CTA) in 2012 where she has been a friendly face welcoming visitors to our city.  When asked why she wanted to volunteer for the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Carol said it was because “I love to travel and always ask the local people wherever I travel for suggestions, so it was a natural step for me to be part of the group that welcomes visitors to beautiful central Missouri.”

As a Tourism Ambassador, Carol has dedicated several hours of service by staffing the City’s Visitors Center and by managing the Convention and Visitors Bureau information table at various special events throughout the City.  It is clear Carol truly enjoys what she does and has been a great asset to the City of Columbia not only as a volunteer but also as an ambassador for our beautiful city.  We thank Carol for her dedication and service to make our city the best place for everyone to live, work, learn and play, 

To learn more about becoming a Columbia Tourism Ambassador or other volunteer opportunities with the City, contact Volunteer Programs as (573) 874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Volunteer of the Month for June 2017-Jane Phillips

Jane Phillips

In late winter 2016 Jane Phillips, an East Campus resident and member of the East Campus Neighborhood Association (ECNA), initiated an invasive plant removal project.

She began a series of emails to East Campus residents about invasive plant species, especially bush honeysuckle. She pointed out the drawbacks of many non-native plants and extolled the virtues of native Missouri plants for yards and parks.

There are several volunteer groups that work to control invasive plants on public land only to have those parks and trails re-infested by the adjoining neighborhood. Invasive plant control on private land was an unmet need. Jane communicated with staff from Columbia Parks and Recreation and from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).

Jane collaborated with MDC on a grant proposal for a professional contractor to remove invasive plants in the less accessible steep and rocky forests on private land in the neighborhood. ECNA is partnering with MDC by using volunteer teams on easier areas and by soliciting matching funds. ECNA has donated $1,000 for the first year and $400 per year for three years to be used for materials and equipment.

MDC is looking at ECNA’s invasive plant removal project as a pilot project that could be used as a model for other urban neighborhoods in Columbia and across the state.

The City of Columbia applauds Janes continuous efforts to restore our beautiful city.

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website  or contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or email volunteer@CoMo.gov .

Volunteer of the Month for May 2017-Alexis McCoy

Alexis McCoy

In 2016 Alexis McCoy began volunteering with the City of Columbia’s Parks and Recreation Department. In eight short months she has made quite an impact on the special events team. From helping with events to engaging the public, Alexis makes it all look easy.

Alexis’ great attitude and consistent desire to go above and beyond have made pulling off large events much easier! When asked why she volunteers, Alexis said “volunteering has given me a very unique outlet to create lasting friendships, enhance my skill-set, and grow. There are no two events that are ever alike, and because of this I never cease to learn something new, connect with others, or have fun doing what I love.”  We are grateful to all of our volunteers, including Alexis, who have made a difference at these and other events.

Alexis’ supervisor Stacey Kulik had the following to say: “”Alexis has volunteered at several Parks and Recreation events in the past year and she has provided outstanding support. She always has a smile on her face, treats everyone around her with kindness and respect and works hard at the task she is assigned. I am always happy to see her name on the volunteer list knowing she will bring something positive to the event.” Thank you, Alexis!

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website at www. CoMo.gov, contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or email volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Elizabeth Miller.

Volunteer of the Month for April 2017-Chuck Lundquist

Chuck Lundquist

Chuck Lundquist has made a world of difference to Columbia, Missouri. He has been a dedicated volunteer with the Records Unit at the Columbia Police Department (CPD) for more than ten years. CPD, which was founded in 1826, has hundreds of thousands of pages of records. Now, finally, many of them are digitized thanks to Lundquist and the Records Unit. Lundquist’s work has been critical in many areas. Records are easier to access, space has been freed for other CPD activities and money has been saved since offsite storage is no longer needed.

Lundquist’s impact, however, goes even further. Those that have worked with Lundquist have the highest praise for him. Colleagues have stated that “he has been a loyal member of the Records family; giving the most important gift you can give – his time.” Additionally, his efforts have reduced liability for CPD by allowing them to be compliant with retention schedules and efficient with records requests. 

According to Lundquist the volunteer work has been a way to show appreciation for the dedicated police department and staff, who have “incredible levels of knowledge and training.” Thank you, Chuck!

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website, contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or email volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Elizabeth Miller.

Volunteer of the Month for March 2017-Mike Szydlowski

Mike Szydlowski

Thanks to Columbia Public Schools Teacher Mike Szydlowski, Honeysuckle is a much smaller nuisance in Columbia’s parks! Szydlowski, who leads The Invasive Honeysuckle Project at Science Teachers of Missouri (STOM), which coordinates honeysuckle eradication efforts locally and state-wide, has done an incredible job in Columbia. In collaboration with Columbia Parks and Recreation, he has planned countless removal events, coordinated local volunteers and given all who participate a renewed understanding of the ecological impact of invasive species. As if that weren’t enough, plant biology and ecology now come alive for all of the Columbia Public Schools students who have volunteered with him. Students have spent more than 1,647 hours to date on honeysuckle removal. According to Szydlowski, a project that started as a “one-time service learning project has expanded incredibly” with “students asking to participate again and again.”

Not only has Columbia benefited from Szydlowski’s efforts, but the impact state-wide has been critical. With more than 1,210,000 honeysuckle plants removed so far, Szydlowski is truly changing Missouri’s landscape. He has found it “very rewarding to work with the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department” and hopes to keep the program moving along.

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website, contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or email volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Elizabeth Miller

Volunteer of the Month for February 2017-Mason Brobeck

Mason Brobeck

When extraordinary volunteers come to mind, Mason Brobeck stands out. With a passion for the environment, Brobeck has spent the past two years leading community environmental, recycling and sustainability initiatives. He has spent countless hours matching citizens and organizations with valuable opportunities to build Columbia’s community and sustainability infrastructure. He has also organized litter clean-ups and worked hard to educate the city’s population about the importance of recycling.

In 2015 Brobeck began his volunteer service with the city by becoming a member of the Park Patrol. He organized his first litter clean-up in his neighborhood in 2015. By 2016, Brobeck’s second massive litter clean-up involved 40 volunteers, netting more than fifty-eight bags of litter of which 68% was recyclable. In order to increase city-wide recycling rates, Brobeck encouraged participants to sort the trash from the recyclable goods. Currently, Brobeck serves as a Recycling Ambassador and a leader in the city’s Rental Energy Efficiency Forum. Thank you, Mason!

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website, contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or email volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Elizabeth Miller.

Volunteer of the Month for January 2017-Historic Preservation Commission

Historic Preservation Commission

Founded in 1998, the City of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) has been a leading force for the preservation of historic properties and the upcycling, salvaging and repurposing of unique historical building treasures for use in contemporary structures. They have an on-call salvage team to remove items from historic structures that are slated for demolition and collect and store items for later public sale. They also consult with citizens wanting to maintain and rehabilitate their historic properties.

With their multi-faceted mission the HPC devotes hundreds of hours to their task. One of their most exceptional projects involved organizing 60+ volunteers for a five year process of rescuing 19,000 lbs. of historic building materials from James Condominium and a dozen other structures, which culminated in a September 2016 sale at Rock Quarry Park. With more than 200 shoppers in attendance and dozens of doors, door knobs, windows, stoves, tin ceilings, radiators and much more, it was clear that the HPC had done something very special: making the old new and giving individuals the ability to purchase historic building materials for numerous other projects in town. In a sense, theirs is the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you, HPC!

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website, or contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or email volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Elizabeth Miller.