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Stories: Abigail Teamer

Overton Park Stories: Abigail Teamer
Abigail TeamerMy story with Overton Park begins unconventionally compared to most visitors. Growing up in Bartlett, I usually went to one of the local neighborhood parks for outdoor play. However, this changed when I started working with my uncle’s janitorial company, Pinnacle Perpetual Services. After he signed a cleaning contract with Overton Park Conservancy in 2016, I stepped in Overton Park for the first time.

The contrast between the loud and busy Poplar Avenue to the serene and calming park just a few feet away made me feel like I walked through a portal. The tall emerald trees rustling in the wind, the grasshoppers jumping around the green sea of grass, and the brown squirrels scurrying immediately filled my senses. I began walking around and seeing what new areas of the park I could discover. With each new turn, it felt like I kept finding a new and secret treasure. As my first day at Overton came to a close, I was excited to work at such a peaceful and beautiful environment.

But my second day at Overton was very different. I opened the car door and suddenly the stench of trash filled my nostrils. When I looked around, I saw hundreds of white and colorful pieces of litter dotted around the park and the restrooms. My heart was broken for many reasons. It saddened me to know that if a first-time visitor came to Overton at that moment, they would not have the magical experience I had. It also cut me that other Memphians did not see the tremendous value of the park. My family and I worked for hours to clean to restore the beauty of the park that day, and I continued that work with them for the next four years. Not only did cleaning at Overton Park teach me the value of hard work, but it also showed me the difficulty of maintaining a city park daily.

While I stopped cleaning Overton Park in 2020, the preservation and growth of the park has always been important to me. That’s why it was an honor for me to join the Overton Park Conservancy team as a Communications Intern in the Summer of 2021. From donor relations to event planning, working alongside the thoughtful Overton Park Conservancy team has given me a look at the complex inner workings of a non-profit. My experience with Overton Park has provided me with tools for college and presented me with knowledge on conserving parks for betterment of our communities.