We Get By With a Lot of Help From Our Friends
By Shawn Green, FOW Volunteer Manager
In the 95 years that Friends of the Wissahickon has been operating, we’ve only been able to deliver on our stewardship mission with the hard work of our volunteers. These selfless citizens have done just about everything in the park: building and improving trails, restoring habitat, leading guided hikes, removing litter, and repairing structures. It truly takes a community to care for the most pressing needs within our beautiful, fragile park.
Much of the stewardship of Wissahickon Valley Park happens at our public Volunteer Service Days, which are fun, easy ways for folks to get involved in the care of this special place. Beyond our service days, though, several corps of extremely dedicated volunteers go above and beyond to protect the park. Each year, we recruit and train volunteers for very specific roles: Crew Leaders co-lead our Volunteer Service Days and complete a variety of field projects; Trail Ambassadors patrol the trails, lead guided hikes, and run outreach tables; Sawyers clear all of those pesky trees that fall across our 50+ miles of trails. Not be be forgotten, of course, is our long-standing Structures Crew that meets every Tuesday morning to build and repair man-made structures in the park.
If volunteer turnout is any indication of a collective love of the Wissahickon, then there is no denying that Wissahickon Valley Park is loved by many, many people. This year, we were thrilled to have the largest group of applicants to ever apply to the Trail Ambassador, Crew Leader and Sawyer programs. Almost 50 of these heroes of the Wissahickon just completed a lengthy training, and are now out on the trails. Like the great city we live in, this new class of stewards come from all walks of life: teachers, attorneys, musicians, horticulturalists, college students, therapists, a brewer, a physician, a winemaker, a novelist, and just about everything in between! The one thing that they all had in common when they first applied was their love of the park, and a common desire to do good.
As Volunteer Manager, it’s so utterly rewarding to see this new class of volunteers step up to the plate and embrace their roles with such enthusiasm, and to watch our community of stewards grow and strengthen right before my eyes. So please welcome them – when you see these volunteers at our service days or out on the trails, be sure to stop, say hello and thank them for their service! Without them, this playground and refuge we all love so much can’t possibly sustain itself.
If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on ways you can get involved!