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Volunteers Spruce Up the Park

As we wrote in our last post, summer brings a lot of challenges to park maintenance. It seems like there’s always either too much rain or too little, the heat takes its toll on plants and infrastructure, and our list of needed repairs grows as quickly as we check things off.

That’s why we’re so grateful for the help of volunteers. Here’s a little recap of the time and energy people have donated to the park recently:

Daughters of the American RevolutionMembers of the River City Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution come to the park every other Wednesday morning to tend the formal gardens and the flowerbeds at the golf clubhouse. They’ve removed bags of weeds from the beds and kept the flowers thriving through the summer heat. Their work in the formal gardens is especially meaningful due to the proximity of the Veterans Plaza Doughboy, which was the original brainchild of a local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter. They raised the funds from the public (and coins from local schoolchildren) to commission the sculpture, which honors 230 World War I veterans.

Medtronic volunteersThe 20+ picnic tables in the Greensward/Rainbow Lake area of the park need some TLC every now and then. A few weeks ago, a great group of volunteers from Medtronic made repairs to the tables and gave them all a fresh coat of paint. We were amazed that they accomplished this sizable task in just a few short hours! We always have a great time with our corporate volunteers, who are no strangers to working as a team.

Wonder Voyage volunteersWe also had a blast watching a team from Wonder Voyage in Flower Mound, Texas learn to work together. Wonder Voyage sends groups of people on personalized pilgrimages and service missions. We were visited by a group of teenagers who were spending the week volunteering at various nonprofits throughout Memphis, and they came ready to work! We asked them to remove the diseased junipers behind the balustrades at the Poplar/Veterans Plaza Drive entrance to the park. These shrubs had been in pretty bad shape for a while, and those roots were beasts to remove, but we definitely had the right people for the job.

MCA volunteersThis past week the new freshman class moved into the Memphis College of Art dorms. Much like last year, when a group of students helped us sand wooden blocks for the Rainbow Lake Playground building area, we had a group come to volunteer with us on Friday. This time they helped us clean up the playground equipment at East Parkway and pick up litter in the picnic area in advance of the big Forrest Spence 5K coming up this weekend. Their help was very much appreciated, especially on a sweltering day!

We also want to shout out our pals at Park Friends for their continual efforts to keep the Old Forest trails in good shape. They make sure the trails are clear of debris and well-maintained at all times.

Baby box turtleAnd finally, our Team Overton Park volunteers deserve special recognition, because they send us fantastic information about the park day in and day out. These dedicated park visitors are the first to let us know when a tree is blocking a trail, a water fountain is clogged, or there’s a new graffiti tag that needs to be scrubbed clean. And they send us amazing photos of the things they find in the park, like this baby box turtle that TOP members Kathy and Richard lifted from the Old Forest roads and safely deposited into the understory.

Our next big volunteer project is tackling a patch of kudzu that has sprung up in the Old Forest and is rapidly asserting itself. We have crews from Christian Brothers University, Rhodes College, and Memphis City Beautiful headed out to help us kill it over the next few weekends. We hope to have some beautiful “after” pictures to share with you soon!

Do you or your company or group want to volunteer with Overton Park Conservancy? Here’s all the information you need.

Wonder Voyage volunteers