Meet Our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: Allison Hirst-O’Callaghan

“Don’t ever question the value of volunteers. Noah’s Ark was built by volunteers; the Titanic was built by professionals.” – Unknown

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?
I appreciated the improvement of this community treasure, which had become neglected throughout the 1970-80s. I played in the Park as a kid and partied in the Park as a teen, so it was a coming of age moment in 1990 when Bill and I moved (back) to Midvale Avenue and took a little ownership of this unique green space.

What volunteer moment are you most proud of?
I remember painting the green benches for a number of years early on and mulching the ground around them. It was an immediate visual improvement and we were proud to be a part of the changes. My grandpop used to rest on those benches in the 1960-70s while taking walks; they offer a clean quiet place in our community for visitors passing through by bus. I always admire evidence of spring clean up after Love Your Park Day, with newly planted colorful flowers and the addition of a variety of trees.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?
As I aged, I struggled to always participate in Park improvements while keeping up
my own property. I often wished more Fallsers and newcomers to the community would
see the benefit of contributing a few hours now and then, recognizing McMichael Park
as our shared natural space.

How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?

Bill and I began to participate in the early 1990s but were not always consistent. I’ve been inspired by those who continue to maintain the Park for the benefit of everyone. It’s a wonderful and gratifying way to meet your neighbors. My most recent contributions involved watering a newly planted evergreen through summer and fall, assuring its health as it took root. I also filled the “Doggy-Pot” boxes for about three years, a job that seems silly until dog-owners find themselves without a bag!

What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?
Don’t be shy, just jump in and introduce yourself to neighbors … friends you have yet to meet. Reach out to a few of the FOMP “old timers” and ask about the scheduled workdays or what you can do on your own. Pick up trash, plant a flowerbed, participate in Park socials and introduce your children to fun and service. No one is ever too young or old to be a valued neighbor!

Allison Hirst-O’Callaghan (right) enjoying Love Your Park Day in McMichael with fellow volunteer Frances Bourne. They are having too much fun!!!

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