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Park Commission Press Releases

Celebrate National Volunteer Week: Volunteers are Honored at Morris County Park Commission
MORRISTOWN, NJ – The Morris County Park Commission is joining communities and organizations across the nation to celebrate and honor American volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 21 to 27, 2013. The Morris County Park Commission in a private event is honoring their 500 volunteers who contributed their talents, skills, and time totaling over 14,000 hours. The Independent Sector valued a New Jersey volunteer’s time at a rate of $25.91 per hour equating to a value of $362,691 of unpaid services to the Morris County Park Commission and its residents! According to the Independent Sector, in 2011 the number of volunteers reached its highest level in five years, as 64.3 million Americans volunteered through an organization, reflecting an increase of 1.5 million from 2010. Americans volunteered a total of almost 8 billion hours, an estimated economic value of roughly $171 billion.

“Without question, Morris County volunteers add a level of quality to our organization and the community that is simply irreplaceable,” states David Helmer, executive director of the Morris County Park Commission. “We honor more than 500 individual volunteers who generously contributed over 14,000 hours delivering a myriad of services this past year. Without these volunteers, we simply could not deliver the same quality of programs and services to the residents of Morris County,” he added.

The volunteers provide a variety of services, including conducting tours, coordinating school programs, staffing special events, assisting with historical collections, planting and maintaining gardens, performing historical research, leading docent interpretative tours, staffing reception desks, and assisting in trail building and maintenance.

Ron Luna of Montville Township is the consummate Park Commission volunteer devoting over 1200 volunteer service hours. As a designated Morris County Adopt-A-Trail Regional Leader, Ron works at least 5 days per week supervising 26 trail maintainers, assisting with Eagle Scout projects, and managing the northern section of the Morris County Park Commission trails.

A 14 year veteran chairperson of The Friends of The Frelinghuysen Arboretum Plant Sale, their largest fundraiser, is the Morristown resident Sue Acheson. Over the course of one year, Sue volunteers in excess of more than 500 hours to plan this important event that supports many educational programs and visitor amenities at The Frelinghuysen Arboretum, the center of horticultural activities in the region.

Hugh Merritt, a 12 year veteran volunteer from Towaco, is a Master Gardener generously donating over 200 hours annually. At Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area in Montville Township, Hugh maintains the native gardens to ensure, for example, that specific insects have the flowers and plants they need to survive. When he is not out in the garden, Hugh is performing office duties.

According to Helmer, “Our volunteers understand their critical role in the delivery of vital services to Morris County through the Park Commission, and we greatly appreciate their contributions. We recognize the tremendous value of their volunteer services.” Morris County is a vibrant community working in partnership for the enhanced lifestyle of all its residents.

In addition to individual volunteers, organizations and corporations also have contributed to the community through generous donations and volunteer programs. Daiichi Sankyo headquartered in Parsippany, as part of their legacy of donating 3,000 cherry trees as a symbol of friendship between Tokyo and Washington, D.C., celebrated their 100 year anniversary by donating 100 cherry trees to Central Park of Morris County in Parsippany. Now called, Cherry Lane, it is a one-quarter mile stretch of cherry trees on Central Avenue that runs through the center of the park, a facility of the Morris County Park Commission. More than 75 volunteers from Daiichi Sankyo arrived to assist in the planting of the trees.

Goldman Sachs of New York City annually sends corporate volunteers who live in the Morris County area to assist in many gardening activities, such as removing invasive species at The Frelinghuysen Arboretum. At Willowwood Arboretum, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical of Raritan corporate volunteers recently helped with an array of gardening activities, as well as the staff and seventh graders from The Willow School of Far Hills who spent a day volunteering. Located in Florham Park, BASF routinely maintains the Traction Line trail that begins in Morristown and traverses into Madison, and recently they supported the Park Commission efforts to replace the exercise equipment along the trail. Novartis Pharmaceutical located in East Hanover and Mars Corporation in Hackettstown are significant contributors to maintaining the Morris County Patriots’ Path trails.

The Morris County Park Commission stewards over 18,700 acres with seven facilities listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, a National Landmark, The Frelinghuysen Arboretum named Best Public Garden and Arboretum in New Jersey, a trail that is designated as part of the National Trails System, top-rated golf courses, and outdoor educational experiences second to none. The Morris County Park Commission is partially funded by the Morris County taxpayers, and operates on visitorship revenue, grants, and also relies on the generosity of others to aid in the maintenance and support of its parks and programs. Along with volunteers who provide innumerable services, the Park Commission also relies on funding from nonprofit groups, such as the Park Alliance, The Friends of The Frelinghuysen Arboretum, the Friends of Fosterfields and Cooper Gristmill, Friends of Historic Speedwell, and the Willowwood Foundation.

The Morris County Park Commission, the largest park system in the state of New Jersey, currently protects and maintains 18,700 acres at 38 distinct sites and a year-round calendar of events and activities.