Volunteer of the Month for September 2018- David Heidlage

David’s love for coaching is what led him to join Parks and Recreation’s Smaller Ballers team as a youth coach.  Smaller Ballers is a program for youth ages 4-7 to learn the fundamentals of basketball.  Volunteer coaches, like David, share a few hours every week working with the kids and their basketball skills.

David believes coaching youth sports provides “an avenue to teach some of life’s most important lessons such as dedication, being positive, focusing, and failure.  Failure is important.”  David’s enthusiasm, dedication and consistency is what Parks and Recreation Supervisor, Camren Cross, believes makes the program a success. 

Over the past two years with the Smaller Ballers program, David said the best experience he has had with this program is “seeing the tremendous growth of such young people and the light of achievement on their faces.  They remind me how incredible the world really can be and that simple joys are often the best.”

Volunteers like David play such a vital role in our community.  We thank David for his dedication to serving Columbia’s youth.

 To learn more about youth coaching volunteer opportunities visit our website at www.CoMo.gov/volunteer or contact us at (573) 874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Tamara T.

Volunteer of the Month for August 2018- Tamara Tennenbaum

Tamara Tennenbaum was driving past Forum Boulevard between landscaping jobs with her husband when she noticed a few Adopt-a-Spots that were available for adoption.  Tennenbaum owns Millersburg Landscaping and does many jobs in south Columbia. She finally suggested that they should adopt one of those beds and beautify the community.

The couple’s first Adopt-A-Spot is the triangle flowerbed on Forum Chapel Plaza, just south of Chapel Hill. They had an architect draw up and plan and then filled it with perennials and shrubs.

Passersby loved it. “The rewarding part of it was when people would stop and tell us how nice it looked while we were out there working on it,” Tennenbaum said.

Since adopting a spot on Forum, Tennenbaum has adopted one more spot in Columbia on South Rolling Hills Road and others in Fulton.  She has planted shrubs, native plants, perennials, and even has a bed dedicated to succulents. Each plant bed has a different theme, and thanks to Tennenbaum and her husband, they bring color and diversity to our city.  

Each time she is out working on the beds, someone says how thankful they are for Tennenbaum’s hard work. “People from the subdivisions nearby stop and ask what I put in them,” she said. “Everyone is really happy when something goes in the beds.”

 

Written by volunteer Laura Davis

S. Spellman

Volunteer of the Month for July 2018- Steve Spellman

Steve Spellman began volunteering with the Columbia Parks & Recreation TreeKeepers program several years ago. After learning more about pruning and planting from the city forester, Spellman was happy to help with tree projects around town. Recently, he has moved near the Twin Lakes Recreation Area and has maintained a quarter-mile section of the MKT over the past year.

After moving, Spellman donated a lot more time to beautifying the city. “The work he has done has been tremendous and you can tell that he truly enjoys what he does,” Volunteer Program Specialist, Amber Olson, said.

As a bike commuter, dog walker and frequent trail user, Spellman was excited to adopt a quarter mile of the MKT trail near the lake, removing the invasive bush honeysuckle, vines, dead tree branches and trash.  “It is motivating to help clear the edges of trail of the ever-encroaching bushes, allowing sunlight to feed wildflowers and other native plants, as well as opening up trail-goers’ views for scenic and safety benefits,” he said. 

Spellman uses this volunteering time to work at his own pace and enjoys the frequent well-wishes of passersby and the camaraderie of fellow trail adopters.

 

Written by volunteer Laura Davis

Marsha and Johnny Nelson

Volunteer of the Month for June 2018-Marsha & Johnny Nelson

Marsha and Johnny Nelson started volunteering with the City of Columbia in 2006 when they joined the Adopt-a-Spot Beautification Program.  This program provides volunteers an opportunity to maintain landscaped beds located in the public right-of-way.  Marsha said “why we volunteer for the Adopt-a-Spot program is fairly simple, we are Columbia natives and wanted to give back to our city in the way of the beautification program.”

Marsha said that there are many challenges to maintaining their bed such as the Missouri weather. They enjoy researching Missouri’s native flowers that are appropriate for their spot.   Most importantly, Marsha said they continue to volunteer because the positive responses they receive from citizens as they drive by mean a lot to them. 

Marsha and Johnny have dedicated hundreds of hours toward beautifying Blue Ridge Road over the past 12 years.   We want to thank Marsha and Johnny for their continued service to ensure that Columbia is the best place for everyone to live, work, learn and play.

To learn more about the Adopt-a-Spot Beautification Program and other ways to volunteer, contact the City’s Volunteer Program at (573) 874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Alpha Kappa Psi

Volunteer of the Month for May 2018-Alpha Kappa Psi

Alpha Kappa Psi has been a consistent volunteer group for the City of Columbia in the past four years or more. The co-ed business fraternity is made up of about 180 students. The group enjoys helping outside of Mizzou’s campus because it allows them to get involved in the greater Columbia community during their college experience. “It’s important to know that Columbia is more than just Mizzou,” said Olivia Thompson, the Vice President of Service.

The group has helped with many activities, ranging from the Bear Creek Run to litter pickups. This past October a large group from Alpha Kappa Psi gathered at the Bear Creek Trail to cheer runners on and help out along the way. “It’s fun to cheer on others and get excited about the races, even if it’s early on a Saturday morning,” Thompson said.

Thompson said the litter pickups are particularly fun for the organization because much of the group are active in outdoor activities and care about the environment. “We can give back to the community while we give help make the earth more beautiful,” she said.

Alpha Kappa Psi as an organization has made a tremendous impact on Columbia, they always bring a large group of volunteers and show enthusiasm for whatever task is ahead of them.

 

Written by volunteer Laura Davis

Abbegail Robinson

Volunteer of the Month for April 2018-Abbegail Robinson

Coaching the Blue Thunder Track Club was the perfect opportunity for Abbegail Robinson. Robinson, a student at Columbia College, was looking forward to getting more involved in Columbia, and as a runner herself, she was excited at the idea of helping kids achieve their cross country goals.

Running courses started with long runs, but turned more into hill work and speed work as the season went on. Robinson primarily ran with children, ages 8 to 10, never missing a run. “The most impactful thing was seeing the kids achieve their goals and see them improve each week,” Robinson said.

Not only could Robinson be found at the practices, but she also attended the meets both in and out of Columbia, driving to Fayette, Jefferson City and Fulton. “This is something that we have not required of volunteers in the past, but she had a strong interest in being available for everything,” Community Recreation Supervisor, Camren Cross said.

Robinson said when she does something, she wants to commit to it. “I wanted everyone to know that I was there to encourage them,” she said.  She looks forward to the upcoming track season that starts in April, as she plans to volunteer again.

 

Written by volunteer Laura Davis

Jo Morrow

Volunteer of the Month for March 2018-Jo Morrow

As she was reading the news four years ago, Jo Morrow saw an ad that the Special Olympics needed volunteers for its summer program. She eagerly volunteered and never looked back. Morrow has been volunteering with Special Olympics in track and field, basketball, golf and softball. Although Morrow already plays golf, she’s learning the rest as she goes. “I enjoy showing up and the athletes recognize me,” Morrow said. “I seem to have the some of the same athletes for different sports; it’s always nice to see a friendly face.”

Morrow is finishing up a PhD and working while she finds time to volunteer. “I don’t have to think about work or school, it’s a nice de-stressor,” Morrow said. Not only has the volunteering been fun, but Morrow sees more and more athletes each year. She is currently coaching a basketball skills team, which started with about eight athletes, but that number has doubled.

Morrow has been a consistent volunteer for Special Olympics, making her viable to the program. “Jo has also always volunteered or stepped in where she hadn’t originally planned to volunteer, if I need help, she’s the one I call,” Jessica Sida, Special Olympics Coordinator, said. “Not to mention, our athletes love her.”

For Morrow, the most rewarding part of volunteering is the excitement on the athlete’s faces. “It’s exciting to see someone make a basket for the first time or sink a putt from a distance,” Morrow said. “Everyone cheers for one another, and it’s just really inspiring.”

 

Written by volunteer Laura Davis

Jeremy Walton

Volunteer of the Month for February 2018-Jeremy Walton

For more than 17 years Jeremy Walton has been committed to serving his community. Jeremy began volunteering at the age of eight with his mom and aunt. Jeremy has made volunteering a routine part of his life in spite of a packed schedule working at Central Missouri Sheltered Enterprise and a calendar full of practice and competition dates for the seven Special Olympic sports in which he participates.

Jeremy is a regular volunteer with the City’s Crawdads Stream Team, Household Hazardous Waste Collection (HHW,) Cleanup Columbia, Hinkson Clean Sweep, MLK Day of Service as well as volunteering at his church and with the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri. Paint consolidation at HHW) Jeremy’s favorite assignment followed closely by liter control. Jeremy literally sprints from the car at HHW he is so excited to get started.  He enjoys the friends he’s made through volunteering and has recruited a fellow HHW volunteer to help coach his bowling and volleyball teams.

Jeremy believes, “helping people is the best thing,” and he likes making sure Columbia is litter free and a beautiful place to live. Jeremy is a great example of the two-way street of volunteerism, contributing to one’s community while finding purpose and fulfillment creating memorable experiences and friendships.

MU PRT Class

Volunteer of the Month for January 2018-MU Parks, Rec & Sports Programming Class

For the past two years the Parks, Recreation and Sport Programming class at Mizzou have become a familiar group of volunteers at the Bear Creek Run Half Marathon.  Each year, approximately 20 students were responsible for providing refreshments and encouragement for runners at the five aid stations along the 13.1 mile course on the Bear Creek Trail.  The runners appreciated these students and their high level of enthusiasm as a boost to keep going.

The partnership between the Parks, Recreation and Sports class and the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department developed through Assistant Teaching Professor, Jennifer Upah, and City of Columbia Recreation Specialist, Stacey Kulik.    Both Upah and Kulik believed this opportunity would serve as a great hands-on learning experience.  Furthermore, Kulik believed the support from the students is what makes the City of Columbia’s events stand out in the running community, and increases participation from Mid-Missouri runners.

The City of Columbia thanks the Mizzou Parks, Recreation and Sports students for their continued support and look forward to collaborating with them on future events. 

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