Volunteers of the Month

Volunteer of the Month for October-Snowy Li

When classes end in the spring, many students find ways to earn money.  Others just want a little rest and relaxation.  But some students in Columbia spend their summers volunteering for the City. Snowy Li is certainly one of them.  Snowy participated in the Youth in Action program the two previous summers, but aged out of the program this year, so she organized Teens in Action for older youth in July.     

From left to right: (Snowy Li, Gloria Nishimwe, Genney Zheng, Mayor Brian Treece, Martha Nishimwe, Jenny Yoo)

Teens in Action began with a bang.  In just two months, 23 teens accumulated over 217 volunteer hours across ten events such as a stream cleanup at the Al Gustin Golf Course and a block party at Indian Hills.

Volunteer Programs Specialist, Sabrina Lambrecht, says Snowy is “dedicated, dependable, and extremely driven.”  Motivating other young people to join and attend projects can be challenging.  On the other hand, what is easy for Snowy is motivating herself.  “I have always loved the environment, animals, and taking care of others.  I find it very fulfilling,” she admits.  Snowy also participates in the City’s TreeKeeper and CARP programs.

Congratulations, Snowy!  And thank you for your service to Columbia.  It’s your work and dedication that inspires other youth to get involved.  Teens in Action will continue to participate in activities throughout the year.  Any young person grades 10-12 is welcome to join the program. If you would like more information on volunteering for the City, call 874-7499 or visit Volunteer@CoMo.gov.  

Written by volunteer Bob Murphy

Volunteer of the Month for September-Grace Reynolds

14-year-old Grace Reynolds has participated in the Youth in Action summer volunteering program for two years now. Her supervisor and Youth in Action’s summer intern, Chris Cole, has described her dedication as “incredible.”  Grace has attended almost every service project Youth in Action has hosted. Her two favorite projects were helping at the Central Missouri Humane Society and working at the Food Bank on multiple occasions.  

There are many other events Grace has been involved with over the summer. Grace has volunteered at the Household Hazardous Waste collection site, provided and served a meal at the Ronald McDonald House, supervised the children’s activities at Fire in the Sky, and spent half a day doing some hands-on learning at Columbia’s Center for Urban Agriculture.  

Grace’s commitment is incredible, but “incredible” could describe her attitude and leadership skills as well. Chris says she is “always on time and ready to go with a smile on her face, even stepping in to help others with the job at hand.” Her attitude toward volunteering is admirable too. Grace says, “Volunteering is a way to help others and interact with people.”

Congratulations and thank you, Grace, for being such a positive role model for youth in the community. To learn how to get involved as a youth volunteer visit www.CoMo.gov or call 573-874-7499.

Written by volunteer Bob Murphy




Volunteer of the Month for August-Debbie Lacy-Anderson

Retired teacher Debbie Lacy-Anderson has volunteered as a compost workshop instructor for three years now, teaching the basics of residential composting and motivating like-minded Columbians to recycle wastes and enrich soils.

Her interest in composting began as a side hobby to her love for gardening. Growing up on a farm with wonderful, rich soil and then moving to the Ozarks, and then Columbia, where the soil is not so good, she learned that composting was a cheap and easy way to improve her dirt and grow better flowers and vegetables.

And being a teacher all her life, and volunteering throughout, it was a natural for Debbie to start

 teaching compost workshops in Columbia’s Volunteer’s Programs. Jody Cook, her volunteer supervisor, says that Debbie “has a fun and energetic approach to teaching and is skilled at involving and engaging her audience.”

“I guess I can’t stop teaching!” Debbie says. And volunteering enables her to meet people who share many of the same interests. “It is just fun!” she adds. Debbie is also committed to growing native plants in her gardens, as naturally as she can, to provide a home for pollinators.

Thank you Debbie for your volunteer service to Columbia as a composting instructor. If you would like to volunteer in some way for our community, call 874-7499 or visit volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Bob Murphy



Volunteers of the Month for July-Phi Gamma Delta

Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity is recognized as July’s Volunteer of the Month for their tireless dedication to volunteerism in our community. Parks and Recreation Specialist Stacey Kulik says Service Chair Mason Kelchner has been “incredibly supportive of some of our department’s running events, including Bear Creek Run Half Marathon and Stonegrinder 7k.” Kulik adds, “The Stonegrinder 7K Trail Run in February 2019 was run in 5+ inches of fresh snow. Phi Gamma Delta showed up promptly and with a smile to support the racers. Many groups would have canceled under those conditions, but not these guys!”

Phi Gamma Delta has also provided volunteer support for several other events for Parks and Recreation including Holiday Lights, Earth Day, Heritage Weekend, and the Youth Track Meet. Parks and Recreation Specialist Jay Bradley said his events were “far and away more successful due to the help from Phi Gamma Delta.” 

Phi Gamma Delta has always been willing to step up to the plate when and where help is needed. The enthusiasm in which they serve is exemplary and demonstrative of their Chapter’s values of friendship, knowledge, service, morality, and excellence. We thank them for their unwavering support and for always volunteering with a smile! 

To learn how you can get involved as a volunteer, contact us at 874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Volunteer of the Month for June-Annabelle Simmons

Helping others has always been a way of life for Annabelle Simmons. Even as a young child she helped her classmates to learn math by explaining it to them using “plain English.” When she decided to have her children, she instilled in them the importance of being generous to others. Friends and family members reminisce on how Mrs. Simmons rewarded them by taking them out to do free activities on Friday evenings.

Mrs. Simmons was introduced to the Live Well by Faith health initiative after becoming the Stewardship Chairperson at her church, St. Luke United Methodist Church. Live Well by Faith is an “evidence-based health program addressing hypertension and promoting a healthy lifestyle a monthly diabetes support group, an eight-week weight loss competition, and a six-week cooking course.’’ Live Well by Faith volunteer supervisor, Verna Laboy explained how Mrs. Simmons had to “walk the talk” by first adopting a healthy lifestyle after she retired from Shelter Insurance.


When looking towards the future, Mrs. Simmons wants to make Columbia a more inclusive city by encouraging the local government to install public restrooms in the downtown area. She is also passionate about improving the local bus transit system. Mrs. Simmons credits the support of Robert, her husband of 43 years for encouraging her to take on opportunities to help others. By following her daily mantra of “Do it now,” Mrs. Simmons continues to help improve the Columbia community.

The City of Columbia says thank you to Annabelle Simmons for her dedicated volunteer service.  To get involved as a volunteer, visit www.CoMo.gov or call us at 874-7499.


 Written by Volunteer Patrika Brown


Volunteer of the Month for May-Fix-It Fair

Adam Froeschner, David Basset, Donald Warren, and Andy Schuette are recognized as our May Volunteers of the Month for their commendable work at the Fix-It Fair hosted by the Mid Missouri Solid Waste Management District and the City of Columbia’s Office of Sustainability.

Since its inception in November 2017, there have been six Fix-It Fairs. Adam, David, Andy, and Donald have been there, generously sharing their time, tools, and expertise by helping citizens with the repair of everyday household items. Fixing these items is important because it helps to conserve resources, reduce waste, and save money. Donald Warren, who has repaired consumer electronics for 24 years, felt motivated to help the community because he enjoys helping others and is concerned about the overabundance of waste. He said, “As time has passed, I have seen more and more consumer electronics going into landfills that may be an easy and cheap fix!” David Basset agreed, saying, “I like helping people and I like helping our environment. This allows for both. I like the idea of people learning to salvage no longer functioning items by repairing or repurposing.”  

Volunteers like Adam, David, Andy, and Donald play such a vital role in making Columbia a more sustainable place to live. We thank them for their generous giving of their time, tools, and talents. 

To learn how you can get involved as a volunteer, contact us at 874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Ben Kang



Volunteer of the Month for April-Baha’i Faith

One of the loveliest flowerbeds in the City of Columbia is located on South Broadfield Road, thanks to the devoted volunteers from the Baha’i Faith. We are honored to name them our April Volunteer of the Month.

For over 14 years the Columbia’s Baha’i Faith community—of 45 members—has dedicated their time and service to managing this bed. Farah Nieuwenhuizen, a member of Baha’i Faith, said they enjoy their spot due to the “encouragement they receive from people walking or driving, and the positive comments over the beautiful Adopt-a-Spot bed, are what they like most about caring for the bed.” However, the work is not without its tests. She said, “Cars drive very fast on the one-lane road each way. It makes weeding and safety a challenge.”

Baha’i Faith volunteered for Adopt-a-Spot as a symbol of service they wanted to provide for their city. The group has also adopted Broadfield Road for litter pickup. “We appreciate the chance to give this service to our city. As the Baha’i writing states, ‘Service to humanity is service to God.’”

Columbia’s Baha’i Faith would like to thank the City of Columbia for their continued support. The City provides water for their flowerbed and retrieves bags of discarded weeds.

The City of Columbia says thank you to Baha’i Faith for their dedicated volunteer service.  To get involved as a volunteer, visit www.CoMo.gov or call us at 874-7499.


Written by volunteer Mary Arnold


Volunteer of the Month for March-Katherine Wortmann

Recycling Ambassador Katherine Wortmann is honored as our March Volunteer of the Month. Katherine is a gifted educator and is magical when engaging with children. She is particularly effective when staffing education booths and overseeing recycling education activities. Those who visit with Katherine leave with a broader knowledge of proper recycling and waste reduction, energized to take action, and empowered by the fact that they can make a difference.Katherine Wortmann

Katherine’s passion for volunteering and protecting the environment started at an early age by following the example of her parents. I love the feeling that fills my heart after I’ve completed a volunteer project. There’s something warm and fuzzy about making a positive impact on the world that keeps me coming back for more.”

“Somebody can’t do everything, but everyone can do something.” a favorite quote shared by Katherine which calls on more people to get involved in volunteer activities.  Katherine thinks it effort to give of your time and talent, “We all have busy schedules and lives, but to set that aside for the benefit of others is something truly remarkable.” 

To learn how you can get involved as a volunteer, contact us at 874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Shishi Chen

Volunteer of the Month for February 2019-Rie Sisaki

Elza Guissou (Graduate of Earn-a-Bike Program) & Rie Sisaki

Rie Sasaki’s love of biking and exercise led her to the Bike Co-op, a program of Parks and Recreation, in January 2018.  Rie provides instruction and leadership for the city’s Earn a Bike program.  Rie was nominated by Benedict Nagy.  Nagy writes, “She serves as a mentor to our teen participants that sometimes come from an underprivileged background and she encourages participation in the program by female and minority students, because she can relate to these students in ways other instructors can’t.”

Rie is a professor at Columbia College and president of COMO Trail Association (COMOTA), a non-profit advocacy group for off-road trails in Columbia. Rie also volunteers with COMO Dirt Dames; a

mountain biking group for women in Columbia. In spite of her busy schedule Rie still finds time to volunteer. When asked why she finds service in her community important, Rie responds, “I think all of us can use a little help from our community, and I’m just doing my part. It makes where I live a little bit more cozy.”

Thanks to Rie Sasaki for assisting in the development of the Bike Co-op and for being a positive influence on the lives of young women in the program.  

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit the City’s website, email volunteer@CoMo.gov, or call 874-7499.

Volunteer of the Month for January 2019-Steve Matthews

Steve Matthews has been volunteering with the City of Columbia Volunteer Programs since 2002. Steve has been heavily involved with the Treekeepers and CARP programs; dedicating nearly 1,000 hours ov

Steve Matthews

er the last 16 years to removing overgrown honeysuckle and falling trees in and around Columbia’s many parks and trails.

Steve’s love of trees is deeply rooted in the way in which he was raised. “I was raised on a large farm along the Missouri River, and we were taught that a “weed” is a plant you don’t want to grow on your land.” When “greedy growth” such as bush honeysuckle threatens to kill native trees and plants, Steve takes pride in rescuing them from extinction. Just this year Steve cut “very overgrown” honeysuckle around Grindstone Park. S

teve states the patrons of the park “were super appreciative of my efforts to open up the jungle, which is something that really keeps me going.”

When Steve isn’t cutting honeysuckle you can often find him reading books from the local library. “I was born in the bookmobile of rural Ray county, I sometimes think!” Steve joked. Steve enjoys attending Osher adult education classes and has volunteered with other local programs such as PET, Love Inc., and In2Action.

We appreciate Steve’s selfless giving of his time and talents to help keep Columbia beautiful! To learn how you can get involved as a volunteer, contact us at 874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.gov.





Volunteer of the Month for December 2018-Dee Campbell-Carter

Anyone who has met Dee Campbell-Carter, knows how friendly she is and that she always has a smile to share.  She has used her enthusiasm as a volunteer with Live Well By Faith.Dee Campbell-Carter

Dee is honored as our December Volunteer of the Month and was nominated by Verna Laboy with the Columbia-Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services for her work.

Dee has been an instrumental volunteer with the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Community Garden.  In 2017, the first year for the garden, there were eight beds.  Under Dee’s leadership, the garden expanded to 31 beds this season!  The Friendship church is located in the City’s North Strategic Plan Neighborhood.

Verna shares that Dee’s work promoted healthy living, foods, and eating by planting and growing your own food.  Dee shared weekly gardening how-to’s and did “amazing work that should be celebrated.”

Dee overcame challenges for Friendship’s community garden including poor soil and water. She overcame these by hauling in better soil and getting a water tank for use near the garden.

The City of Columbia says thank you to Dee Campbell-Carter for her dedicated volunteer service.  To get involved as a volunteer, visit www.CoMo.gov or call us at 874-7499.

Volunteer of the Month for November 2018-Nia Imani

Nia Imani is honored as the November Volunteer of the Month for her work with Live Well by Faith, a program of the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health & Human Services. Nia Imani

Nia leads weekly preventive health programs in her church, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, including cooking classes and Weight Watchers meetings.  She has served in this role for the last two years. The goal of the Live Well by Faith program is to promote healthy lifestyles in the African American community where health disparities are the greatest.

Verna Laboy, Health Educator, nominated Nia because of her effectiveness.  Nia has collaborated with several church denominations to build a thriving program. Members from six different churches attend her programs. “Nia is an awesome leader and her enthusiasm is contagious,” said Verna.  “She Is passionate about the work and has lost over 30 pounds herself.”

Live Well by Faith has had success because of the dedication of volunteers like Nia Imani. Thank you, Nia, for the difference you are making in the lives of others in Columbia.

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit the City’s website, email volunteer@CoMo.gov, or call 874-7499.