Lea Langdon is the July Volunteer of the Month. Lea has a passion for the environment and believes that all citizens have a responsibility to be good stewards of the earth. Lea began here service with the City of Columbia in 2015 as a Recycling Ambassador. Lea takes any opportunities that arise to promote waste reduction and proper recycling, but her real niche is with native landscapes education.
In 2017 Lea began passing her extensive knowledge of native landscapes to the public through the COMO Wild Yards Program. According to Community Conservationist, Danielle Fox, “Lea is an excellent gardening mentor because she gently teaches others about the natural systems that native plants create and how to best manage them in a garden setting.” It can be crushing to explain to someone that a beloved plant actually hurts the environment. Lea’s gentle nature breaks this news to people easily giving them time to process and understand how non-native plants cause damage to our native environments. Lea also serves through other organization such as the Wild Ones, MO Native Plant Society and CPS outdoor classrooms to educate the community about native landscaping.
Lea loves working with youth and has instilled a passion for gardening in many children whether that is through pulling weeds, planting natives, composting, or killing bush honeysuckle with them. The evidence of Lea’s passions and dedication can be found all around Columbia in many demonstration gardens, at public parks, school ground and residential homes.
If you would like to know more about Columbia’s Volunteer Programs, call 573-874-7499 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
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 email@example.com for information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 573-874-7499.
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 shewanted 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 Lydia’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 email@example.com.
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.