Ten minutes into my interview with Janet Pazzynski, I fully realized why a friend of hers urged her to write a how-to book on retirement.
Janet's ever-expanding resume is impressive: graphic designer, actress, unofficial Riverview Park tour guide, Pittsburgh lover, gardener, and volunteer, among many other things. Her last title, volunteer, being the reason for her visit to the Parks Conservancy office one cold Tuesday morning.
“It started with one perennial garden in Riverview Park.”
Janet first began her extensive volunteer career with the Parks Conservancy by simply asking to help. Janet dreamed of being a gardener while working at a telephone company, and after retiring at an early age, Janet asked if she could help the Parks Conservancy with the planting of a flower bed in Riverview Park.
“If you’re planting this bed, you gotta weed it,” a volunteer leader told her, jokingly.
Little did anyone know, Janet would eventually take on the herculean task of helping to look after 12 flower beds in Riverview Park. Working with Parks Conservancy horticulturist, Angela Yuele, Janet personally adopted each bed one by one, working on them once a week from the first buds of spring until deadheading season in the fall. Janet also lent her skills at digital design by creating a sign for Riverview’s recently established English knot garden.
Janet says that caring for the park gardens has just become a part of her schedule; she goes out on her own every week to weed the beds through the summer months. "It's therapeutic," she says. Riverview Park has always been a part of her life (sitting with her for an hour, you can learn the complete history of the park and all of its hidden secrets, like where to find the old zoo), and she says it’s the best feeling when neighbors and park visitors tell her how beautifully the gardens are growing.
Because of her experience in Riverview, Janet recently took a position as a professional gardener -- something she's been wanting to do for a long time. But don’t worry, she won’t abandon her beds come next spring.
We give a big thanks to Janet for all of her work helping our park gardens blossom. And next year, when you visit Blossom Lane, the knot garden, and the flower beds in Riverview Park, don’t forget to tell the rock star community member tackling weeds just how gorgeous the gardens look.
Volunteers like Janet help us accomplish an extraordinary amount of important work in the parks. This year, volunteers came out in record numbers to really make an impact in our park communities. Here are the numbers we crunched for 2013, our biggest year yet:
1,570 volunteers came out to work in the parks
1,300 trees and shrubs were planted
Volunteers completed 5,500 hours of work
Volunteer hours amounted to $119,000
(based on national volunteer hour rates)
At the Parks Conservancy, we're giving thanks this week and every week for our tireless, enthusiastic, and passionate volunteers. We can't wait to see everyone again in the parks next year!