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Every day, Ohioans are making extraordinary contributions to the communities where they live, work, and play. Learn more about the impact AmeriCorps members and volunteers have on the communities they serve, stay current on service and volunteerism trends, and be the first to know about upcoming funding opportunities, events, and special initiatives.


Rebeccah Verhoff-Kiss, Outreach & Education Officer, ServeOhio

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Metroparks Toledo: A Volunteer’s Happy Place

Research shows volunteering has a positive impact on happiness.  For Metroparks Toledo volunteer Janet Burtch, happiness is part of the reason she gives back to her community.  Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio Janet has been a dedicated Metroparks Toledo volunteer for over 3 years. She began lending a hand in her community, “to keep Toledo” as Janet says, “a community that cares about each other”.  For her, the park system has always been her happy place and she wanted to share that happiness with others.  As a member of Volunteer Trail Patrol, she acts as an extra set of eyes and ears for the park rangers.  VTP patrol park trails on foot, bike, and horse and keep the parks safe for all visitors.  As an avid runner and hiker, the VTP program is a perfect fit! Janet began patrolling 4 out of 16 parks in her first year on VTP. While on patrol, Janet goes a step above and assists with litter pick-up while on patrol. The operations staff has noticed her diligence and consistent attention to detail while maintaining park cleanliness, especially in highly visible and high traffic areas along roads, trails, parking lots and playground. The operations team even nominated Janet for a “Knock Your Socks Off” award because of her outstanding service to others and keeping the parks clean. 

“Metroparks is a great place volunteer because there are so many different opportunities”.   Janet has volunteered in so many unique capacities.  As a Garden Keeper, she has adopted garden beds at 5 different parks and maintains the beds from early spring to late fall.  Using her interpretive skill as a Manor House Docent, Janet leads park visitors from around the world on tours of the historic Manor House and weaves a tale of Toledo history.  As a Facility Host, she shows off park rental facilities and helps visitors imagine what their wedding or other special event will look like celebrated at the park.  And finally, as an Information Table Host, she hosts information tables at festivals, community events and other gatherings to inform the public all that is offered by Metroparks.  Oops!  One more.  She greets staff and visitors while staffing the reception desk at the Visitor Center and is even able to fold t-shirts between helping visitors.  She is an outstanding ambassador for the parks!  Janet has accumulated nearly 700 volunteer hours in the less than 3 years of service – that’s over 200 hours each year. Staff members are impressed by her positive attitude, dedication to volunteerism, and her willingness to always lend a hand to her beloved community. She cares for her happy place and it shows!

- Hannah Calandra - Volunteer Coordinator, Metroparks Toledo

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