Trail Talk: Open spaces in and around Colorado Springs thrive on volunteers | Way of life

Colorado Springs is famous for Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. We are called Olympic City USA. We are a popular destination for tourists, retirees and relocations.

May I suggest that we should also be recognized for our large number of volunteers. I have never lived anywhere with so many “groups of friends” supporting parks, trails and open spaces or where so many people pick up trash on their daily walks.

At this month’s Parks Advisory Board meeting, seven volunteers were honored for investing hundreds of hours leading cleanups, trail work, guiding classrooms on nature, adopting a dog park and managing volunteer bike ambassadors. Michele McMurray was declared “Volunteer of the Year” for contributing more than 1,000 hours of service during her 11 years at Garden of the Gods.

What’s truly amazing is that there are unsung heroes among us with comparable records. I know a retired colonel who once managed multi-million dollar budgets. For years, she volunteered weekly at North Cheyenne Cañon providing information about trails, water and restrooms. She also spends hours each week at a local elementary school helping struggling children improve their math skills.

The last value of one hour of volunteering is estimated at $29.95. This is the new national average calculated by the Do Good Institute, based on hourly earnings from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. These volunteers could get part-time jobs, but choose to reinvest in their community. They sit on nonprofit boards, improve outcomes in schools, and improve our quality of life.

You could say that volunteers look out for themselves. Mental health professionals say volunteering is good for the body and the mind. It can reduce stress, anger and anxiety. Volunteering fights depression and makes you happy. It gives meaning to purpose.

Mayor John Suthers asks all of us to help keep the COS clean. Some areas of the city, medians and public rights-of-way look a bit seedy and could use some spring cleaning. Many local cleanups are underway for Earth Month. If we all pitch in, we can maintain what hundreds of volunteers will be doing by the end of April.

Colorado Springs, where you’ll find one of the world’s most famous parks, America’s Mountain, and find it teeming with volunteers who know what’s good for them and their community.

Davies is the executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition.

Davies is the executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition.

About Ethel Partin

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