Volunteers of the Month

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.



Volunteer of the Month for December-Tom Amolsch

Tom Amolsch has been volunteering with the City of Columbia as a Park Patroller since 2013, logging over 600 volunteer hours with the City. Tom has combined his love for the outdoors with his affinity for service. As a Park Patroller, Tom logs close to 100 hours a year. He provides an extra set of eyes and ears along our trails and in our parks to help keep trail users safe, and assists them with any questions they may have.

Volunteer Programs Specialist Jody Cook says, “Tom’s service to the community isn’t restricted 

From left to right: Tom’s grandson Vincent & Tom

to Park Patrol. Tom often helps with litter events and can be counted on for special projects, whether that is distributing door hangers or helping with special events.” Even with Park Patrol, litter cleanups and the occasional special project, Tom continues to share even more of his time by recently becoming an Adopt-A-Trail volunteer; adopting a ¼ mile section of the MKT trail; adding to his long list of service projects. Tom’s commitment to our community is truly admirable.

Congratulations Tom and thank you for dedicating so much of your time caring for our parks, streets and trails in Columbia. To learn how you can get involved as a volunteer, contact us at 573-874-7499 or volunteer@como.gov.

Volunteer of the Month for November-Gloria Schwartz

For a long time Gloria Schwartz had wanted to coach the Special Olympics, but she thought she didn’t have time.  Finally, three years ago, a friend coaxed her into helping at a practice.  Then, she not only found the time, but a very rewarding career in coaching.  

Far left: Gloria Schwartz

Gloria has been involved with competitive sports all of her life.  And she wanted to help persons with intellectual disabilities experience some of the same excitement, opportunities, and lessons she knew sports could provide.  That’s why she volunteers and is now their softball and basketball coach.  Gloria tells us it was the “best decision I’ve ever made.”

Jessica Sida, Recreation Specialist for the Special Olympics, says that Gloria’s style of coaching is “nothing short of admirable.”  She provides the athletes with a safe and fun space to experience emotional growth and build relational skills with teammates and others; things they can take home and use in other parts of their lives. Gloria “is always bringing out the positives in all our athletes and helping them realize those positives,” she adds.  

Thank you, Gloria, for your dedication and passion.  Gloria would like to add that if you have any interest in helping with the Special Olympics, don’t hesitate.  “You will make a difference in someone’s life and at the same time, it’ll change yours.”  .   

For information on volunteering for the Special Olympics, call 573-874-7312 or email Jessica.Sida@CoMo.gov.  For other volunteer opportunities in the City of Columbia contact 573-874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.gov.  

Written by volunteer Bob Murphy  


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

Grace Reynolds and friends14-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.Debbie Lacy-Anderson

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 Fraternity Members Posing for Photo

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 Annabelle Simmonsmembers 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 importAdam Froeschner, David Basset, Donald Warren, and Andy Schuetteant 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 ColMembers of the Columbia’s Baha’i Faith community posing in front of their flower bed.umbia 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