Volunteers of the Month

Jane Phillips

Volunteer of the Month for June 2017-Jane Phillips

In late winter 2016 Jane Phillips, an East Campus resident and member of the East Campus Neighborhood Association (ECNA), initiated an invasive plant removal project.

She began a series of emails to East Campus residents about invasive plant species, especially bush honeysuckle. She pointed out the drawbacks of many non-native plants and extolled the virtues of native Missouri plants for yards and parks.

There are several volunteer groups that work to control invasive plants on public land only to have those parks and trails re-infested by the adjoining neighborhood. Invasive plant control on private land was an unmet need. Jane communicated with staff from Columbia Parks and Recreation and from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).

Jane collaborated with MDC on a grant proposal for a professional contractor to remove invasive plants in the less accessible steep and rocky forests on private land in the neighborhood. ECNA is partnering with MDC by using volunteer teams on easier areas and by soliciting matching funds. ECNA has donated $1,000 for the first year and $400 per year for three years to be used for materials and equipment.

MDC is looking at ECNA’s invasive plant removal project as a pilot project that could be used as a model for other urban neighborhoods in Columbia and across the state.

The City of Columbia applauds Janes continuous efforts to restore our beautiful city.

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website  or contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or email volunteer@CoMo.gov .

Alexis McCoy

Volunteer of the Month for May 2017-Alexis McCoy

In 2016 Alexis McCoy began volunteering with the City of Columbia’s Parks and Recreation Department. In eight short months she has made quite an impact on the special events team. From helping with events to engaging the public, Alexis makes it all look easy.

Alexis’ great attitude and consistent desire to go above and beyond have made pulling off large events much easier! When asked why she volunteers, Alexis said “volunteering has given me a very unique outlet to create lasting friendships, enhance my skill-set, and grow. There are no two events that are ever alike, and because of this I never cease to learn something new, connect with others, or have fun doing what I love.”  We are grateful to all of our volunteers, including Alexis, who have made a difference at these and other events.

Alexis’ supervisor Stacey Kulik had the following to say: “”Alexis has volunteered at several Parks and Recreation events in the past year and she has provided outstanding support. She always has a smile on her face, treats everyone around her with kindness and respect and works hard at the task she is assigned. I am always happy to see her name on the volunteer list knowing she will bring something positive to the event.” Thank you, Alexis!

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 volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Elizabeth Miller.

Chuck Lundquist

Volunteer of the Month for April 2017-Chuck Lundquist

Chuck Lundquist has made a world of difference to Columbia, Missouri. He has been a dedicated volunteer with the Records Unit at the Columbia Police Department (CPD) for more than ten years. CPD, which was founded in 1826, has hundreds of thousands of pages of records. Now, finally, many of them are digitized thanks to Lundquist and the Records Unit. Lundquist’s work has been critical in many areas. Records are easier to access, space has been freed for other CPD activities and money has been saved since offsite storage is no longer needed.

Lundquist’s impact, however, goes even further. Those that have worked with Lundquist have the highest praise for him. Colleagues have stated that “he has been a loyal member of the Records family; giving the most important gift you can give – his time.” Additionally, his efforts have reduced liability for CPD by allowing them to be compliant with retention schedules and efficient with records requests. 

According to Lundquist the volunteer work has been a way to show appreciation for the dedicated police department and staff, who have “incredible levels of knowledge and training.” Thank you, Chuck!

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 Elizabeth Miller.

Mike Szydlowski

Volunteer of the Month for March 2017-Mike Szydlowski

Thanks to Columbia Public Schools Teacher Mike Szydlowski, Honeysuckle is a much smaller nuisance in Columbia’s parks! Szydlowski, who leads The Invasive Honeysuckle Project at Science Teachers of Missouri (STOM), which coordinates honeysuckle eradication efforts locally and state-wide, has done an incredible job in Columbia. In collaboration with Columbia Parks and Recreation, he has planned countless removal events, coordinated local volunteers and given all who participate a renewed understanding of the ecological impact of invasive species. As if that weren’t enough, plant biology and ecology now come alive for all of the Columbia Public Schools students who have volunteered with him. Students have spent more than 1,647 hours to date on honeysuckle removal. According to Szydlowski, a project that started as a “one-time service learning project has expanded incredibly” with “students asking to participate again and again.”

Not only has Columbia benefited from Szydlowski’s efforts, but the impact state-wide has been critical. With more than 1,210,000 honeysuckle plants removed so far, Szydlowski is truly changing Missouri’s landscape. He has found it “very rewarding to work with the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department” and hopes to keep the program moving along.

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 Elizabeth Miller

Mason Brobeck

Volunteer of the Month for February 2017-Mason Brobeck

When extraordinary volunteers come to mind, Mason Brobeck stands out. With a passion for the environment, Brobeck has spent the past two years leading community environmental, recycling and sustainability initiatives. He has spent countless hours matching citizens and organizations with valuable opportunities to build Columbia’s community and sustainability infrastructure. He has also organized litter clean-ups and worked hard to educate the city’s population about the importance of recycling.

In 2015 Brobeck began his volunteer service with the city by becoming a member of the Park Patrol. He organized his first litter clean-up in his neighborhood in 2015. By 2016, Brobeck’s second massive litter clean-up involved 40 volunteers, netting more than fifty-eight bags of litter of which 68% was recyclable. In order to increase city-wide recycling rates, Brobeck encouraged participants to sort the trash from the recyclable goods. Currently, Brobeck serves as a Recycling Ambassador and a leader in the city’s Rental Energy Efficiency Forum. Thank you, Mason!

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 Elizabeth Miller.

Historic Preservation Commission

Volunteer of the Month for January 2017-Historic Preservation Commission

Founded in 1998, the City of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) has been a leading force for the preservation of historic properties and the upcycling, salvaging and repurposing of unique historical building treasures for use in contemporary structures. They have an on-call salvage team to remove items from historic structures that are slated for demolition and collect and store items for later public sale. They also consult with citizens wanting to maintain and rehabilitate their historic properties.

With their multi-faceted mission the HPC devotes hundreds of hours to their task. One of their most exceptional projects involved organizing 60+ volunteers for a five year process of rescuing 19,000 lbs. of historic building materials from James Condominium and a dozen other structures, which culminated in a September 2016 sale at Rock Quarry Park. With more than 200 shoppers in attendance and dozens of doors, door knobs, windows, stoves, tin ceilings, radiators and much more, it was clear that the HPC had done something very special: making the old new and giving individuals the ability to purchase historic building materials for numerous other projects in town. In a sense, theirs is the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you, HPC!

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website, or contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or email volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Elizabeth Miller.

Socket employees

Volunteer of the Month for December 2016-Socket

For more than eight years Socket, a Missouri phone and internet provider has been a corporate leader in local community service projects. Through the Adopt-A-Spot Litter Program, Socket employees have donated hundreds of hours to cleaning up Clark Lane from Paris Road to Highway 63. Their adopted area contains significant litter, is a narrow road with no shoulder and high-volume traffic. Every quarter without fail, they schedule their clean-up with the City of Columbia with up to 20 individuals donating 20 to 45 hours of service. Their last clean-up netted eighty-nine bags of litter!

Other recent Socket community projects include sponsoring the 2016 Countdown to Kickoff fundraiser, which benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri, and participating in the 2016 Rootin’ Tootin’ Chili Cookoff, which raised funds for the Boys and Girls Club of Columbia. Their aggressive campaigns to reduce litter and improve the lives of children demonstrate commitment to our community. Thank you, Socket!

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 Elizabeth Miller.

Mission Continues

Volunteer of the Month for November 2016-The Mission Continues

The City of Columbia believes in celebrating the groundbreaking work of our volunteers – especially our veterans and their service organizations. One organization, The Mission Continues, stands out. The Mission Continues, which is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization, was founded to empower veterans and community organizations to work together for sustainable and transformational community change across the United States. Since its founding in 2007, more than 1,700 veteran fellows have done volunteer work in more than 49 states. The Mission Continues has also had a noticeable impact in Columbia, Missouri.

Since 2012, The Mission Continues and its local affiliate the Columbia 1st Service Platoon have worked with the City of Columbia and local organizations on numerous service projects. Results to date include restoring Nifong Park, working with veterans at the Truman VA Hospital, improving the Nora Stewart Early Learning Center and more.

As the mission continues for our veterans, whose help we value greatly, we are reminded of the importance of citizen engagement. To all of you that make Columbia better – thank you.

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 Elizabeth Miller

Randi Webster

Volunteer of the Month for October 2016-Randi Webster

Randi Webster became a part of the City Wide Flag Line in November 2015 as a volunteer coach. The City Wide Flag Line is one of the many programs offered to youth ages 7-18 through the Community Recreation program at the Armory Sports Center.  When asked what she enjoys about her time as a flag line coach, Randi said “they [the kids] are all so dedicated; the look of pride when they accomplish a tricky move makes all of our hard work worth it.”  Randi also said that what she loves the most about being a coach is being able to share something she loved as a kid with her daughter and other children.

Randi’s passion and dedication has not gone unnoticed by others, specifically Parks and Recreation staff.  Mary Dewey, a Community Recreation Leader, said Randi has been the perfect match for this program. As a former member of her high school Color Guard, Randi knew what she was doing when it came to teaching the kids a flag routine.   Randi works with the flag line group every week preparing them for performances that take place at many community events.  

Thank you, Randi, for providing a unique opportunity for our youth and your commitment to bettering the community!

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website or contact us at (573) 874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Aaron Hill

Volunteer of the Month for September 2016-Aaron Hill

Since moving to Columbia three years ago, Aaron Hill has been a familiar face with Youth in Action. Youth in Action is a summer volunteer program for youth ages 12-15. From May to July, volunteers like Hill spend their time at various service projects around Columbia. When asked why he wanted to join Youth in Action, Hill said “I really wanted to learn more about the community, and I always enjoy helping people.”

This past summer Hill spent over 40 hours volunteering for various projects including: packing food at the Food Bank, assisting at the Missouri Symphony Society, cleaning up our streams and parks and so much more. When Hill was not volunteering for Youth in Action, he spent his time helping others at his church. While this is Hill’s last year with Youth in Action, he does plan to continue to serve his community because he believes it is important to give back.

Volunteers like Hill are an inspiration to us all and help make Columbia such a great place to live.

To learn more about volunteering with the City, visit our website or contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.gov.

 

 

Sonia Antequera

Volunteer of the Month for August 2016-Sonia Antequera

The City of Columbia believes in celebrating volunteers. There are few volunteers like Sonia Antequera. A retired physical education teacher from La Paz, Bolivia, Antequera’s contributions to the City of Columbia’s volunteer programs are exceptional. When she is not assisting in the office, she can be found teaching children at the annual Earth Day celebration, sorting paint for hazardous waste disposal and numerous other tasks. Antequera is passionate about volunteering and feels that “being a volunteer is a great opportunity [for me to give] back to the town what it is giving to me.”

Antequera leaps with boundless energy from one project to another, giving every task her full attention, effort and passion. Her Spanish language skills and unique ability to communicate with everyone have also made her an extraordinary asset. And, she has only been in Columbia for five months visiting her son. Her return to Bolivia this fall will leave Columbia with a hole. She will be sorely missed. However, it’s clear that La Paz will benefit greatly upon her return. For the past 20 years, Antequera has coached and refereed wheelchair basketball for disabled men and women.

To learn more about volunteering with the City of Columbia, visit our website at CoMo.gov, contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or email volunteer@CoMo.gov.

Written by volunteer Elizabeth Miller.

John Scalise

Volunteer of the Month for July 2016-John Scalise

As a Rehabilitation Services Manager at Job Point, John Scalise uses his background as a volunteer to train City employees on the topics of emotion management and stress and depression management.  “I truly believe that if people knew more about mental health the stigma would decrease,” John says. “There have been amazing advancements in behavioral health and understanding how to overcome the life challenges us humans face.”  

Since last winter, John has been offering training sessions that provide a series of topics that assist people in helping others. Even with a busy schedule, John has volunteered his time to help educate City employees ways of managing difficult situations to better serve Columbia.

As a direct care provider for individuals with life challenges, John and his wife are “natural born helpers” that seek to make a difference by helping others.“I think it’s so important for people to learn about the myths about mental health,” John says. “My hope is that people will stop seeing mental illness as a health problem that is no different than physical health.  If we can increase the understanding and decrease the stigma I believe people will be able to address concerns better.”  

To learn more about volunteering with the City, visit our website or contact Volunteer Programs at 573-874-7499 or volunteer@como.gov

                -Written by Volunteer Abby Holman