Our amazing Friends of McMichael Park volunteer: Rich Lampert

Rich Lampert – FOMP volunteer for 27 years. Grant Writer. Tree Planter. “Tell me what you need.”

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?

It’s gratifying to see neighbors coming together behind rakes, wheelbarrows, and the like to accomplish some shared tasks that improve our park. 


What volunteer moment are you most proud of?
Working with Alexis in a meeting that resulted in funding from our State Senator for a safer electrical box we can use for events in the park. 


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?  
Making sure I completed grant applications on time, helping to fund events such as Theater in the Park.


How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?
I’m going on 27 years as a volunteer. I keep going because I pass by the park almost every day and it’s always satisfying to see that park remains beautiful and well maintained.


What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?

It’s simple: Show up and pick up whatever tool you’re offered — a pruner, a rake, whatever — and work with your neighbors. Repeat every time there’s a call for volunteers to work in the park, and then it becomes an enjoyable habit. If you like to work, you’ll fit right in. 

Our Amazing Friends of McMichael Park Volunteer: Betty Miller

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -The Lorax
    Dr. Seuss

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?
I volunteer in McMichael Park to do something to enhance our neighborhood and make it a better place for all. By working side by side with other neighbors one gets a sense of teamwork, camaraderie and pride.

What volunteer moment are you are most proud of?

Happy to help where and when ever I can.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?  
As a senior member I am happy that I am still physically able to plant, cut or simply pick up sticks.

How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating. 
I have been a volunteer since it’s early days. I volunteer to better our community, make new friends, environmental reasons and basically help to preserve our treasured park.

What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?
I would encourage all for……
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not” …….The Lorax  by Dr. Seuss.
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

The Lorax -Dr. Seuss

Amazing Friends of McMichael Park volunteer: Geoff Brock

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?
Sense of community.  Interacting with my neighbors. Seeing results as the condition and beauty of the park continued to improve.
What volunteer moment are you most proud of?
Keeping Alexis from murdering Mike DiBerardinis, then Recreation Commissioner, even though he deserved it.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?
Aside from getting older, none.  But we do need more young folks to receive the torch.  Those that come out now are an encouragement.
How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?
Since the 1980s.  This is our community.  While the City has responsibility for it, we know that for many reasons, the City will not provide satisfactory services for maintaining this space.  The photos I took in 1984 convincingly make this point.  Nothing is sustainable without on-going commitment of creativity, materials and labor.  This is what we, together, bring to this park.  I occasionally look at the old photos and get encouraged by the current condition of the park.  There’s still more to do, though.
What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?
First, go into the park often and enjoy it. Communicate with each other about what you see.  This could be something positive you wish to share or a sprig of poison ivy that needs to be pulled out.  Get on the social media sites for the park.  Back when the park was somewhat of an unmaintained hell hole, people tended not to go in there. Consequently, it attracted dumping, sketchy characters (including a murder), etc.  With community members regularly in the park, it tends to discourage abuse.  And while you’re there, feel free to pick up a few fallen branches and place them by a trash can.  

McMichael Park – 1984. Grass was sky high. The bushes around the War Memorial required the FOMP volunteers to prune and maintain annually. Eventually they were removed.

Geoff continues to volunteer in McMichael Park.  Photo from Spring/2019 Love Your Park Service Day.
McMichael Park – 1984. Trash cans were overflowing which attracted rodents. The FOMP pruned all trees twenty feet from the base for safety reasons. Park usage increased as the Friends continued to maintain.

Celebrating 30 Years of Amazing FOMP Volunteers

February – 2020

Tom Williams (left) and Keith Schively were the original volunteers of Friends of McMichael Park

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park? 
Getting to know our neighbors from all parts of East Falls and making the Park appear cared for then and continuing for many years.

What volunteer moment are you most proud of?
Getting started by Tom and Keith painting benches by themselves and overcoming feeling like a dweeb.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?  
 
Forcing ourselves to work with and be polite with some administrative persons we did not like and coming to realize that our ideas were not always the best.

How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?
     
From the beginning of the FOMP Group (1990) until 2000 when we moved to Bala Cynwyd.  It has been our observation that a more cared for public place will attract more responsible people to use it.  Both of us were also discouraged – – perhaps taken aback that the judges, lawyers and city employed professionals living in East Falls did not see or comprehend what was happening to their park. We did not want to live across the street from a derelict city property so I/we worked to change it with Alexis. Eventually some of the categories we mentioned did come round.  It is so easy to criticize people who live in run down, trash strewn areas and there we were, more educated, and social professional standing and WE were letting that happen to our Philadelphia neighborhood.  Someone had to get the ball rolling and it fell to us to do that.  A lot of thanks should go to Herb Henze and the late Sallie Maser for their help


What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?     
Don’t feel self conscious about your interest to improve your neighborhood.  If you build it eventually they will com to help.  Be tenacious.  People will stop looking at you like you are strange and eventually join you.