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.
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
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.
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 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.
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 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.
Susan Miller stands out as an extraordinary volunteer. Upon retirement as a Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetic Educator Susan moved to Columbia to be near her grandchildren. The idleness of retirement didn’t suit Susan and she soon became heavily involved with the City’s Volunteer Programs. Susan is a trained volunteer Recycling Ambassador, is involved with the Adopt-A-Trail Program and assists with many Parks and Recreations events.
Susan has a passion for the environment, believing that each of us must take steps to be kinder to the earth. She began her involvement with recycling 40 years ago with her son recycling newspapers as a scouting project. The City’s Recycling Ambassadors program was a natural fit for Susan. She is an experienced and gifted educator and truly enjoys promoting waste reduction and recycling through developing curriculum and presenting to young children or adults.
Susan brings warmth and energy to all she does: promoting waste reduction, assisting children with craft activities or clearing honeysuckle. The generosity of her time, talents and talents help to make Columbia a great place to live, work, learn and play.
To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website at www.como.gov, contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or email email@example.com.
David’s love for coaching is what led him to join Parks and Recreation’s Smaller Ballers team as a youth coach. Smaller Ballers is a program for youth ages 4-7 to learn the fundamentals of basketball. Volunteer coaches, like David, share a few hours every week working with the kids and their basketball skills.
David believes coaching youth sports provides “an avenue to teach some of life’s most important lessons such as dedication, being positive, focusing, and failure. Failure is important.” David’s enthusiasm, dedication and consistency is what Parks and Recreation Supervisor, Camren Cross, believes makes the program a success.
Over the past two years with the Smaller Ballers program, David said the best experience he has had with this program is “seeing the tremendous growth of such young people and the light of achievement on their faces. They remind me how incredible the world really can be and that simple joys are often the best.”
Volunteers like David play such a vital role in our community. We thank David for his dedication to serving Columbia’s youth.
Tamara Tennenbaum was driving past Forum Boulevard between landscaping jobs with her husband when she noticed a few Adopt-a-Spots that were available for adoption. Tennenbaum owns Millersburg Landscaping and does many jobs in south Columbia. She finally suggested that they should adopt one of those beds and beautify the community.
The couple’s first Adopt-A-Spot is the triangle flowerbed on Forum Chapel Plaza, just south of Chapel Hill. They had an architect draw up and plan and then filled it with perennials and shrubs.
Passersby loved it. “The rewarding part of it was when people would stop and tell us how nice it looked while we were out there working on it,” Tennenbaum said.
Since adopting a spot on Forum, Tennenbaum has adopted one more spot in Columbia on South Rolling Hills Road and others in Fulton. She has planted shrubs, native plants, perennials, and even has a bed dedicated to succulents. Each plant bed has a different theme, and thanks to Tennenbaum and her husband, they bring color and diversity to our city.
Each time she is out working on the beds, someone says how thankful they are for Tennenbaum’s hard work. “People from the subdivisions nearby stop and ask what I put in them,” she said. “Everyone is really happy when something goes in the beds.”
Steve Spellman began volunteering with the Columbia Parks & Recreation TreeKeepers program several years ago. After learning more about pruning and planting from the city forester, Spellman was happy to help with tree projects around town. Recently, he has moved near the Twin Lakes Recreation Area and has maintained a quarter-mile section of the MKT over the past year.
After moving, Spellman donated a lot more time to beautifying the city. “The work he has done has been tremendous and you can tell that he truly enjoys what he does,” Volunteer Program Specialist, Amber Olson, said.
As a bike commuter, dog walker and frequent trail user, Spellman was excited to adopt a quarter mile of the MKT trail near the lake, removing the invasive bush honeysuckle, vines, dead tree branches and trash. “It is motivating to help clear the edges of trail of the ever-encroaching bushes, allowing sunlight to feed wildflowers and other native plants, as well as opening up trail-goers’ views for scenic and safety benefits,” he said.
Spellman uses this volunteering time to work at his own pace and enjoys the frequent well-wishes of passersby and the camaraderie of fellow trail adopters.
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 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.
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.
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.”