Who IS that dapper-looking volunteer? It’s Italian Village resident Rick Harrison, taking a lead from Hollywood with a handsome selfie.
As a Friends of Goodale Park volunteer for the past three years, Rick’s gardening and beautification resume is extensive. He has planted hundreds of annuals in Goodale Park’s many garden beds. He has worked on everything from mulching to litter pickup to tree pruning to training new volunteers—and the list goes on. The Friends have come to rely on Rick as one of their most dedicated and experienced volunteers.
Rick is the Assistant Director and Director of Development for the Central Ohio Diabetes Association. He spends much of his time on diabetes awareness, education, fundraising and community outreach. Already a do-gooder? Perhaps. But when FGP Volunteer Coordinator Julie Hallan approached him three years ago to help out at the next volunteer work day, Rick not only showed up—he continued to show up for the next three years!
So what’s his deal? Why does he spend so much time volunteering in Goodale Park? “It’s something I’d long thought about,” he said. “I live in the neighborhood. Rec & Parks does a great job, but I felt I could do more.”
Rick moved to Columbus from Athens, Ohio, where he used to have a big garden. Now that he is an Italian Village resident, working in Goodale Park gives him an opportunity to mingle with other gardening aficionados.
“I get a big sense of pride and satisfaction out of seeing things grow and bloom throughout the year. I love living in the Short North, and I take a lot of pride in the area and in this park. And it’s a great way to meet new people, through volunteering.”
As a regular volunteer, Rick has a unique perspective on the Friends’ work in Goodale Park. He has seen many successful work days, he’s sweated through 90-degree work days, and he’s layered up for the snowy ones.
What does he think is going well for the Friends? Rick thinks it’s in the increase in attendance. “The number of volunteers coming out, and the consistent growth in people from all walks of life, coming out to make sure the park looks good,” he said, noting that it’s great to see so many large groups working in the park.
What’s the most difficult job Rick has had to do as a Friends volunteer? “Putting up the fence around the pond! The ground was rock-solid. We really had to work!” (Thank goodness those days are over!)
What is Rick’s hope for the Friends for the future? “I’d love to see more people come out and maybe more groups take ownership of beds in the park.”
Finally, what is Goodale Park to Rick Harrison?
“It’s the city’s back yard.”