Barb Melson – February 2021 Volunteer of the Month

As the City’s Volunteer Program celebrates 25 years in 2021, we will highlight several long-time volunteers for their service.  In February, we recognize Barb Melson. Barb is a volunteer with the Adopt-A-Spot Beautification Program and was previously recognized as the Volunteer of the Month in 2008

Barb cares for a median bed on Park de Ville Drive, just north of Broadway in west Columbia.   She started with the program in the spring of 2004 and with the help of her husband, Bob, has shared hundreds of hours of service.  Their spot has shared color and beauty for 17 years!

What Barb shared in 2008 continues to be true, “As we work, people are always stopping and thanking us for the beautiful flowers and work we do to help their neighborhood look nice.”

Barb is known for her endless energy!  She was a physical education teacher with Columbia Public Schools for 37 years and since has had a career as a realtor. The City of Columbia says a big thank you to Barb and Bob for their work in Park de Ville Drive – it has been enjoyed by many!

Ed Kaiser – January 2021 Volunteer of the Month

Volunteer Columbia celebrates 25 years of connecting residents to service opportunities in local government in 2021.  Throughout the year, we will highlight the efforts of long-time volunteers.

After an attempt to get into the Air Force, Ed Kaiser subconsciously found himself being a volunteer officer in the Columbia Police Reserves. The reserves were a diverse force of 40 dedicated volunteers serving their community.

Through the Police Reserves, Ed met a battalion chief with the Columbia Fire Department who requested Ed accompany him on an inspection tour for his company to look for hazardous materials. Ed realized storage and disposal of hazardous materials was an issue that needed a solution immediately.

After being made aware of extremely harmful hazardous materials in local buildings, it dawned on him the possible hazardous materials in homes. This concern led him to pen a letter to the City of Columbia. With his “Ivory tower” experience as he explained (thanks to his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Purdue University) Ed made it a priority to teach firefighters about hazardous materials.  Ed then developed a program for residents to dispose of their hazardous materials in cooperation with the City’s Solid Waste Utility. Household Hazardous Waste collection, developed by Ed, accepts your materials every 1st & 3rd Saturday mornings, April through November, at the Grissum Building, 1313 Lakeview Avenue.

In approaching the 25th anniversary of Volunteer Columbia, Ed responded: “To thine own self be true…”. Ed and his wife, Judy, have visited all seven continents. Congratulations to Ed Kaiser on this honor and thanks for your impact as a volunteer!

Written by volunteer Maggie Brown