Some of the Burke Centre Conservancy’s volunteers help out with the annual Fall Festival, while others serve on boards, committees or task forces. Every volunteer helps ease the Conservancy’s financial burden on its residents.
“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” said Patrick Gloyd, executive director of the Burke Centre Conservancy. “They’re the secret staff at our disposal.”
To make sure the volunteers know they’re appreciated, the Conservancy threw a volunteer recognition party, Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Oaks Community Center. Staff members and volunteers gathered to celebrate the hard work that goes into keeping Burke Centre in shape and out of debt.
“Volunteers are what makes this community what it is to live in,” said Kala Quintana, the Woods neighborhood trustee.
Some popular faces in the neighborhood were at the party, including Margo Sheridan, commander of Burke VFW Post 5412; Luanne Smith, former Oaks neighborhood trustee; Leon Rose, chairman of the finance committee; and Sam and Shirley DiBartolo, who both frequently attend board meetings and participate in task forces and community dialogue in the Braddock District. Sam DiBartolo was responsible for influencing architects to include a clock tower in the Burke Centre VRE parking garage design.
“These are the people who are most active in the community,” said Jeannie Winslow, director of administration.
“We’re able to do so much more knowing we’re able to depend on help from the volunteers,” said Gloyd.
LIVING IN BURKE CENTRE is like living in a small, tight-knit community, even though there are 5,682 residences in the neighborhood. The 65 cluster neighborhoods give it more of a community feel, and the clusters are responsible for their own neighborhood improvements. For some, that means pitching in the required fees for repairs and maintenance, but for many it means physically lending a hand to the community.
“I pick up litter,” said Luanne Smith, the former Oaks neighborhood trustee.
Smith helped create the “green team,” a group of volunteers who clean up the community whenever and wherever they can. She also started Earth Day in Burke Centre, which has become a popular day in the community.
Nancy Sherman, a Conservancy staff member, said communication is one of the biggest hurdles that volunteers help the Conservancy overcome. Volunteers contribute to the Conservator, the community’s monthly newsletter. They also provide feedback to the trustees and staff members who govern the bureaucracy.
“The community wouldn’t understand the decisions being made on their behalf if it wasn’t for the volunteers,” said Sherman.
The community is a melting pot, said Quintana. People have different interests, backgrounds and expertise, but there is a place for it all in Burke Centre, she said. “You can always find something to participate in, and the more people participate, the more likely they are to do good things for the community.”
Gloyd attributes the ability to operate with less staff members to the volunteers. He said the leaner staff is possible because volunteers are so dependable. Throwing the volunteer recognition party is just a small token of appreciation, he said.
“It helps people understand how much of a difference their time makes in the community,” said Quintana.