WPC Celebrates Record Number of Volunteers for Community Gardens Program in 2008
Tue, Jan 6th 2009, 10:16. Filed under News Releases.
Pittsburgh, PA – January 6, 2008 – Communities throughout Western Pennsylvania benefited from a record turnout of 8,300 volunteers for the Community Gardens and Greenspace program of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) in 2008.
This strong volunteer turnout, which represented an increase of 3,000 volunteers compared to 2007, enabled WPC to plant community gardens, trees and green spaces throughout the region. Volunteers who contributed to the record-setting turnout provided both elbow grease and expertise throughout the year – for Earth Day activities, early spring plantings of gardens, trees and green spaces, summertime gardens caretaking and late-fall tree plantings.
“We are grateful to all of the Gardens and Greenspace volunteers who made a difference for their communities and for this region in 2008,” said Tom Saunders, President and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. “The results of their efforts – greener and more beautiful cities and towns throughout our region – show the scale of what can be achieved in Western Pennsylvania when volunteers pitch in.”
Volunteer Vivien Luk said, “The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is a great organization and I was excited to volunteer with them during Hands on Pittsburgh because the outcomes are tangible, environmentally healthy, and empowering to the community-at-large. The staff at WPC was extremely organized and provided incredible support during the project, enabling an enjoyable volunteering experience for all.”
Word-of-mouth awareness about the great volunteer opportunities offered through WPC has led in part to the significant increase in the number of volunteers, said Judy Wagner, WPC’s senior director for Community Gardens and Greenspaces. In total, volunteers clocked more than 40,000 hours last year.
Wagner noted that widening outreach efforts, under the leadership of Volunteer Coordinator Lynn McGuire-Olzak, have introduced these greening opportunities to dozens of new groups in the past year. The overall number of volunteer partners, including schools, community groups and businesses, grew from 217 in 2007 to 331 in 2008.
“I help plant a WPC garden with a group of friends every year. It’s a fun way for all of us to get together and give back to the community, and at the height of summer, we see the fruits of our labor in full bloom on the side of a highway or in the middle of a neighborhood,” said volunteer Julie Pezzino. “It’s wonderful to know that so many people in Pittsburgh enjoy viewing the gardens, and we’re grateful that WPC puts the time and effort into it every year.”
The Conservancy is seeking volunteers for 2009 Gardens and Greenspace activities. For more information or to sign up, visit WaterLandLife.org or call 412-586-2324.
About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
To date, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) has protected nearly 225,000 acres of natural lands in Pennsylvania. Now in its 77th year, Pennsylvania’s first conservancy continues to partner with grassroots organizations to protect land, restore watersheds and save natural habitats.
WPC preserves Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater®, which was designed in 1935 and entrusted to the Conservancy in 1963 by Edgar Kaufmann jr. A symbol of living in harmony with nature, Fallingwater is open to the public and offers a wide variety of educational programs to its more than 135,000 annual visitors.
Each year, WPC plants and maintains community gardens and greening projects throughout Western Pennsylvania. In 2007, WPC partnered with more than 5,300 volunteers and dozens of community organizations to plant 140 gardens in 19 western Pennsylvania counties.