Volunteer of the Month for June – Lisa E. A. Meyer

Lisa E. A. Meyer is June’s Volunteer of the Month for Columbia.  Her nominator Jody Cook describes her as a “litter pickup guru.”  Not only has Lisa done an amazing job cleaning up roadways and neighborhoods, she has also been a volunteer supervisor for group litter events. Lisa, like any good “guru,” has developed a great rationale for her community service.     

Lisa has called Columbia home for 15 years.  As a Real Estate agent Lisa knows, homebuyers want clean neighborhoods and streets.  This is how she explains spending her free time picking up litter: (volunteering and community service) is “a part of ownership, responsibility, and gratitude.  I live in a great country and city – I want to do my part to help take care of it,” she says. 

Lisa and her husband Jim often collect 25 bags of trash between them.  In two years Lisa alone has picked up a whopping 157 bags of trash,  and she still has time for volunteering with many other organizations in Columbia.  

Thank you, Lisa, for your service and hard work.  You’re an inspiration and a genuine guru for litter cleanup.  “It’s not my trash but it’s my city!” she adds in conclusion.       

If you would like to know more about Columbia’s Volunteer Programs, call 573-874-7499 or visit volunteer@como.gov for information.

Written by volunteer Bob Murphy.

Volunteer of the Month for May – John Mier

On the many trails that wind through Columbia, Adopt-A-Trail is not your usual litter control or cleanup volunteer program, and John Mier is not your typical volunteer.  He is a heavyweight champion in the battle to takedown the invasive, non-native, bush honeysuckle that has overgrown our forests and trails.

Initially Adopt-A-Trail volunteers participate in training to learn proper tree care, trail maintenance, and the identification of invasive species in Missouri, and how to remove them.  They are then assigned a quarter-mile section of trail in the city to care for.  Since 2017 John has logged over 91 hours of hard work and sweat, but he doesn’t mind because he says it’s a great way to relieve stress.  He jokingly calls the honeysuckle removal “bushwhacking,” but the results are obvious.  The trail opens up and looks much nicer, and clearing the honeysuckle allows for native plants to begin to grow back.

“It’s all about helping,” John says.  He’s been volunteering in some capacity for decades.  “You meet new people, learn new things, and in most roles, you know you are helping.”  John also spends time volunteering at the St. Louis Zoo.  

Thanks John for your energy, fortitude, and desire to help.  If you also like helping and want to learn more about volunteering for the City’s Adopt-A-Trail program, please contact volunteer@como.gov or call 573-874-7499.

Written by volunteer Bob Murphy.

 

Volunteer of the Month for April-Lydia Stephens

When Lydia Stephens attended the Missouri Leadership Seminar at the University of Central Missouri in 2019 she fell in love with helping others and making a positive change in her community. “I promised myself once I returned home I would get more involved, and joining Volunteer Columbia was the perfect opportunity.” When Lydia first saw Teens in Action on the Volunteer Columbia Instagram page she instantly knew it was something she wanted to be a part of. “I believe any student lead organization created to benefit their community is a perfect opportunity to develop your character and experience the real world.”

Lydia’s biggest challenge is finding time to volunteer. Between school and work Volunteer of the Month for April-Lydia StephensLydia’s schedule fills up quickly. Lydia is also involved with the National Honor Society and FCCLA; two organizations through her school. “Most of my volunteering consists of working with Teens in Action and The Food Bank, as well as other opportunities I find on the monthly Volunteer Columbia email.”

Lydia says, “To anyone thinking of getting involved with volunteer work, just do it. It can seem really daunting and awkward at first but taking that first step and showing up will do a world of a difference for not only others but for yourself.”

Thank you to Lydia for demonstrating the power of Teens in Action. If you know or have a teen that would like to volunteer contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or volunteer@como.gov.

Volunteer of the Month for March-Valerie Owen

On her drive home Valerie Owen always noticed the flower bed in the Clark Ln. and Ballenger roundabout. As a professional gardener she would admire the space and think of ways to improve the landscape.

In February 2019, Valerie got the opportunity to adopt the bed and do just that. Valerie says since she has taken over the spot “people really do notice, less trash is thrown out, and there are less signs littering the roadway!” With all of the hard work that Valerie has put into her spot, what she enjoys the most is “seeing people who drive by and stop to comment on how they really appreciate my bed. It is work but it’s relaxing to me at the end of my day.”

Volunteer of the Month for March-Valerie Owen

Maintaining a bed that large comes with its challenges, but Valerie has taken on those challenges with perseverance and determination. Valerie says her greatest obstacle was tackling the bindweed that had taken over the entire bed last summer. Around that same time she also had her biggest and prettiest pots stolen before she got the chance to get them planted in the ground, but Valerie didn’t let that stop her. She simply adjusted her planting plan and did not allow those setbacks to derail her from her goals.

Thank you Valerie for leading by example and not giving up when the going got tough. If you are interested in becoming an adopter please contact 573-874-7499 or volunteer@como.gov.

 

Volunteer of the Month for February-Columba Jimenez

From left to right: HHW Supervisor Jason Clayton & Columba Jimenez

Columba Jimenez has been committed to serving her community for years. She is a familiar face at many of City of Columbia events and also volunteers at the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri and her church.

Columba has participated in monthly Litter Team cleanups for seven years and many Household Hazardous Waste Collections (HHW) the past four years.  Columba goes above and beyond at HHW by making authentic burritos to share with fellow volunteers and the Solid Waste Utility staff. She is instrumental in supporting a team atmosphere that keeps other volunteers coming back.

If there isn’t an opportunity scheduled, Columba and her son will pick up litter in an area of need. She loves to take a walk and see no trash along the streets and trails.

Columba works full time as a nurse and has a son who is heavily involved in Special Olympic Sports. In spite of a packed schedule, Columba carves out time to serve her community.

What Columba likes best about volunteering is,” meeting new people, discovering new places and trails, and being a good role model for her son. “ If you are interested in similar experiences, visit our website at www.como.gov, contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or email volunteer@como.gov.

 

Volunteer of the Month for January-Jasmina McNutt

When Recreation Leader, Mary Dewey, noticed Jasmina McNutt knitting while waiting for her children as they participated in various activities at the Armory, she approached her about starting a program to teach crochet and knitting, and Jasmina says, “The rest is history”.Jasmina McNutt

 Jasmina has always found crochet and knitting to be both soothing and comforting. Jasmina says it takes about an hour to learn the basics, but “you can spend the rest of your life mastering it”. The only challenge Jasmina has faced is getting the word out about the program. Currently there are several participants, but she would like to see the program grow to include more students. When Jasmina isn’t teaching you can find her helping out in other ways, either watching children before class or helping set up for special events.

Not only does Jasmina volunteer at the Armory, but she also volunteers with the Islamic Center of Central Missouri’s youth program. When asked why service to her community is important to her, Jasmina offers a quote by Herman Melville to explain her motivation; “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”

We appreciate Jasmina’s sharing of her time and talents! If you have an idea for a new program or want to learn how you can get involved as a volunteer contact us at 874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.gov.