Volunteers of the Month

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.  

Michal Zigo

Volunteer of the Month for December 2017-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 Judy Bock

Volunteer of the Month for November 2017-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

John Gage

Volunteer of the Month for October 2017-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.

The Froidl Family

Volunteer of the Month for September 2017-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
Quinn Cunningham

Volunteer of the Month for August 2017-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.

Carl Schultz

Volunteer of the Month for July 2017-Carol 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.