City of Columbia volunteers recognized for extraordinary efforts!
The Volunteer of the Month program recognizes the efforts of some of the many volunteers who improve the City of Columbia. Visit this page to read about our volunteers of the month!
December Volunteer of the Month
In order for Columbia’s law enforcement officers to do their job effectively, they need the support of the citizens they serve. This partnership, known as community policing, would not be possible without help of volunteers like Andy Muscato, who works with the Columbia Police Department’s Neighborhood Watch program.
Neighborhood Watch is a grassroots organization where citizens help prevent crime by working with police officers to identify problem areas or individuals within a neighborhood. Andy, a MU student pursing a degree in Anthropology, has worked with the Columbia Neighborhood Watch for more than two years. His duties include: calling other volunteers to compile any reports of crime in their neighborhoods, updating the Columbia Police Department’s computer database, and assisting in a study to evaluate local laws pertaining to underage drinking. His outstanding contributions to the program recently landed him a paid internship with the Department.
Andy says his volunteer work has given him a new perspective on what police officers do for the community. “It’s a lot more humanistic than most people think,” he says. “It’s not just a 9-5 job writing tickets. There is a communication that takes place between the police department and the public that is vital for the community. ”
The City of Columbia wishes to thank Andy Muscato for all his hard work as a volunteer with the Columbia Police Department’s Neighborhood Watch program. Your efforts have helped make our city a safer place to live.
By Isaac Larson
November Volunteer of the Month
Columbia is considered one of Missouri’s most attractive cities. Yet this attractiveness doesn’t come easy – each year the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department puts in thousands of hours maintaining the city’s 61 public parks. This effort is not possible without the help of volunteers like Bill Reniker, a TreeKeeper with City Forestry Division.
TreeKeeper volunteers work alongside city staff to plant and maintain trees in Columbia’s parks. TreeKeepers attend training classes to learn the basics of tree planting, disease, and maintenance. After training, TreeKeepers must commit to 36 hours of field service on city parks and trails projects. Their wide-ranging duties include: planting new trees, pruning established trees, mulching, fertilizing, and removal of harmful species such as honeysuckle and grapevine.
Despite the gritty work, Bill says he enjoys being a TreeKeeper. “It is so interesting,” he says. “I wanted to know more about planting and taking care of trees, so I decided to join. It’s really neat working with such a great group of people. I fully intend to stay on as a TreeKeeper and continue to do what I can.”
The City of Columbia wishes to thank Bill Reniker for all his hard work as a TreeKeeper. His efforts have helped make Columbia a beautiful place to live!
By volunteer Isaac Larson
October 2005 Volunteer of the Month
Columbia residents have long recognized that promoting creative and artistic expression enhances the attractiveness of their city, and helps preserve the diverse cultural heritage of Mid-Missouri. The Columbia Festival of the Arts, held each year by city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, has become the premier event to showcase the wide array of visual, performing, and literary talent that can be found in Boone County . This event would not be possible without the help of the dedicated volunteers who serve on the Festival of the Arts Steering Committee.
Steering Committee members assist the Office of Cultural Affairs staff in a variety of ways, including helping to select artists who will perform at the Festival, supervising performances and volunteers during the Festival, and lending a hand in the extensive clean-up operation following the event. Steering Committee members typically serve a three-year term, and usually contribute a combined 360 hours of effort to assure that each Festival is a success. Kay Kjelland, City of Columbia Cultural Program Specialist says, “The Festival Steering Committee is the heart of the festival. It brings the festival to life."
The 14 th annual Columbia Festival of the Arts will be held on September 24-25 at the Courthouse Square in downtown Columbia . The city wishes to thank all those who served on the Steering Committee for their hard work and dedication
By Isaac Larson
September 2005 Volunteer of the Month
The September honoree for Volunteer of the Month is MU Circle K. MU Circle K, an affiliate group of Kiwanis International, has a 40 year history of service to the Columbia community.
Circle K members have assisted the City of Columbia with a variety of special activities including the Heritage Festival, Festival of the Arts, Tiger Night of Fun, Cleanup Columbia, and the Santa Hotline.
“I like to volunteer because of the people. Getting to see so many people from so many different walks of life,” said Ashley Gallion, past club president. “At Mizzou we tend to get blind-sighted when surrounded only by those ages 18-25, and becoming visible to the rest of the community is such a refresher!”
Thanks to MU Circle K for their service to the City of Columbia.
August 2005 Volunteer of the Month
This month’s honored volunteer is Charles Laun, a retired University of Columbia-Missouri biology professor.
Laun was nominated by Mona Menezes from the Public Works Department’s Water division for his assistance with the water quality program.
Laun’s concern and outreach extends beyond Columbia stream cleanup. He monitors the water quality for two Mid-Missouri lakes, formed the Hominy Branch Stream Team and has been a Missouri Department of Conservation “Forest Keeper” for the past eight years. Laun also enjoys community outreach as he helps to educate people about the impact of Missouri’s water on the environment.
When asked about the rewards of his volunteer experience Laun says, “The rewards are that I get to work with people and teach them about the importance of water quality.” Mona Menezes, Storm Water Educator with the City of Columbia Public Works Department adds that Laun's presence and constant assistance “inspires people.”
Columbia extends our thanks to Charles Laun for his hard work and dedication.
Article by volunteer Amy Coble
July Volunteer of the Month
When disaster strikes, proper preparation and organization can save lives. And thanks to the efforts of volunteer Dave Blankenship, mid-Missouri is better prepared to meet disaster head on. Dave serves as the Communications and Information Chief for the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a grassroots volunteer group of health care professionals who assist the community during emergencies such as natural disasters, disease outbreaks, or terrorist attacks. Dave, who works as a software analyst at Boone Hospital, provides the MRC with the information management and computer expertise crucial to the group’s mission.
“It is a chance to help ourselves and our community,” Dave says of his work with the MRC. “Should the worst-case scenario occur, our area could be in trouble. The Medical Reserve Corps is a way for regular citizens like me to help.”
The MRC was founded in the spring of 2004 when the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services received a grant from the USA Freedom Corps, a federal program initiated by President Bush after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since then, Dave and other members of the MRC have been developing response scenarios designed to meet public health needs brought on by natural or man-made disasters. One challenge facing the MRC is how to best disseminate information to MRC volunteers in the event of an actual emergency. Among Dave’s many contributions in this area was the installation of the MRC website, mrc.missouri.org, where volunteers can review instructions given through the Boone County Emergency Management Agency.
“The website shows that Dave brings an expertise that is vital to our program,” says Frank Barfield, the MRC Project Coordinator who supervises the volunteers. “Also, his enthusiasm is unbelievable. He is really dedicated to the MRC and the community.”
Certainly, the MRC and Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services are better because of outstanding volunteers like Dave Blankenship. The City of Columbia wishes to thank Dave for all his hard work and dedication.
by Isaac Larson
June Volunteer of the Month
This month’s volunteer of the month is Columbia Fire Department’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
While the local CERT Program was established almost two years ago, the idea originated in Los Angeles in 1985. The LA Fire Dept recognized then that citizens would be on their own during the beginning stages of any type of disaster, and therefore created a program that would enable community members to learn basic training to improve their rescue skills.
The Columbia chapter participates in such events as First Night, where members serve as fire watches during the fireworks display and at the National Kickoff of National Preparedness month in Jefferson City. Members like Maria Cox, Alpha Team Leader, must participate in CERT training classes before beginning their official duties. Ms. Cox’s most rewarding part of her experience has been “working with the people…and the sense of being part of one team ”.
The City of Columbia thanks the CERT volunteers for their hard work and dedication.
By volunteer Amy Coble
May Volunteer of the Month
The May volunteer of the month is University of Missouri, Columbia, campus organization ~ The Little Sisters of the Pearls and Rubies honored for their Adopt A Spot Litter partnership with the City of Columbia Public Works Department.
The Little Sisters of the Pearls and Rubies organizational purpose is to promote academic and social interaction with the members of UMC’s Farmhouse Fraternity. The current president, Andrea Shaw, says, “We love being able to get out and help our community whether it’s through cleaning up our adopted spot or helping organizations, such as Relay for Life, raise funds. We have a wonderful group of women that are committed to the betterment of our community and we appreciate that Columbia has been very supportive of us as well.”
Aside from their campus work, the Little Sisters have consistently helped Public Works since October of 1998. Their current project is picking up litter in Paquin Park and at Lee Elementary School with close to 100 volunteer hours volunteers since they began the program. This large amount of volunteers and hours has helped keep Columbia cleaner.
The City of Columbia thanks the Little Sisters of the Pearls and Rubies for their hard work and dedication.
By volunteer Amy Coble
April Volunteer of the Month
April’s volunteer of the month is Columbia resident Barb Seabolt, who was nominated by the Columbia/ Boone County Health Department’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC.)
The MRC consists of a group of local medical/health care professionals and staff who volunteer to assist our community in times of medical, natural or civil disaster and also to help the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services in general.
Seabolt, one of the original members of the MRC, has been assisting them for one year. Attendance at training sessions and meetings, as well as participating in all of MRC’s activities, is part of her volunteer duties. Her organizational level and staff experience helps the MRC keep up with the demands of the community. Barb simply says of her volunteer work, “Volunteering is an extension of your faith …something heartfelt that you can do to share and help people.”
Additionally, Seabolt is a charter volunteer for the Columbia Hospitality Corps, established in September 2003 by the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, to staff the Lake of the Woods Visitor Center. The City of Columbia thanks Barb Seabolt for her hard work and dedication.
By volunteer Amy Coble
March Volunteer of the Month
The honored group of volunteers for the month of March is the University of Missouri, Columbia chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Over the past three years ASCE has assisted Parks and Recreation staff with several forestry projects including trash removal from creeks, planting over 1,000 trees for the Hinkson Creek Restoration Project as well as plantings in other parks, including Stephan’s Lake Park. Their work is often performed in inclement weather and on rough terrain but the impact of their efforts far exceeds the challenges. Ultimately, the result of this hard work is the beautification of Columbia.
ASCE’s current project coordinator is Chuck Poston, a junior Civil Engineering student at MU. Being the main organizer, Poston said that “…all of these projects, while not on large scales, have been beneficial to the community that we live in.”
Columbia thanks the UMC chapter of ASCE for their hard work and dedication.
Article by volunteer Amy Coble
February Volunteer of the Month
This month’s volunteer is Roxie Grant, who was nominated by 50+ Ceramics, a local Parks & Recreation program that exists for community members over the age of 50. The program serves as a unique way to socialize with peers and caters to all skill levels from novice to expert. Classes are offered during the day and evenings.
Mrs. Grant began her volunteer experience with the City of Columbia in 1995 to get out of her home and help others. After a few years of working with crafts at Oak Towers, Roxie was asked to help with the Ceramics Program at Parkade. Although she did not have a lot of experience with ceramics she faced the challenge with a willingness to learn and help others. Now after seven years, Roxie is often called the “mother” of the program and said ““I enjoy ceramics a lot and love helping other people.”
Columbia thanks Roxie Grant for her hard work and dedication.
Article by volunteer Amy Coble
January Volunteers of the Month
This month’s dedicated volunteers are The Wild Ones (Mid-MO Chapter), a local native plant garden club; and Julie Barry, a Columbia resident.
In addition to the many other volunteer projects these volunteers perform in the community, they are being honored for their work in the Public Works compost demonstration site. Their work at the site involves planting and maintaining the garden beds and other areas around the compost bins.
The Mid-MO Wild Ones mission is to educate community about biodiversity and environmentally sound practices. The current president Lesa Beamer said, “Working at the compost site is a great project, a combination of demonstrative landscaping and composting.”
Julie Barry, an individual volunteer, has been helping at the site for 2.5 years. She spends time there at least once a week in the summer and more in the fall. When asked how she likes her current volunteering experience, she emphatically says “I love it!”
Columbia thanks The Wild Ones and Julie for their hard work and dedication.
Article by volunteer Amy Coble