‘A great reward for the effort’: Volunteer Christopher Masciocchi Shares Why it is Great to Be a Neighborhood Coordinator

If volunteering with Friends of Trees has been on your radar or you are just looking for ways to contribute to your community–you are in the right place! Friends of Trees is seeking dedicated volunteers for a variety of roles in the coming planting season.

Today we are highlighting Christopher Masciocchi, volunteer Neighborhood Coordinator to East Portland’s Hazelwood neighborhood. Chris excels in this diverse role of community buildingevent planning, and local tree advocacy. Chris has a lot of great things to share about the Neighborhood Coordinator role and has been gracious enough to share them with us. Check out his interview below and discover if this is the volunteer role you’ve been searching for!

“The Neighborhood Coordinator role is a great one because it means interacting with the Friends of Trees staff, local businesses that want to support their efforts, the neighbors looking to plant trees, and the many volunteers that just want
to help.”

Current Needs for Neighborhood Coordinators exist in many Portland neighborhoods east of 82nd Ave: Lents, Centennial, Glenfair, Sumner, and Parkrose. Click HERE to read more and sign up to be a Neighborhood Coordinator if you live in one of the listed East, Northeast neighborhoods listed above.

Onward to the interview!

Why do you volunteer with Friends of Trees?

The beauty of Portland’s tree canopy was actually a big part of why I moved here.  What could be better than helping add to that canopy, while building community, creating relationships, and doing something that feels tangibly positive?  Getting to watch the trees we plant mature over time and help change the character of neighborhoods for the better is a great reward for the effort.

As a Neighborhood Coordinator volunteer, you work closely with FOT staff to plan and support neighborhood tree-planting events in your area. Why did you choose to join Friends of Trees in this volunteer role?

The Neighborhood Coordinator role is a great one because it means interacting with the Friends of Trees staff, local businesses that want to support their efforts, the neighbors looking to plant trees, and the many volunteers that just want to help.  The functions of the role are really diverse, from helping people choose and get the right trees in the right place, to helping organize the actual planting events and getting volunteers fueled and fed on planting day.  As someone who is involved with several other community initiatives, it is a great way to interact with a broad spectrum of folks that I might not otherwise have to opportunity to.  It’s a great way of getting to know what is going on in the area and what people’s perceptions and aspirations are.

The Friends of Trees’ staff is extremely knowledgeable and does a really great job of getting Neighborhood Coordinators up to speed and making it all really easy.

What is it about Neighborhood Coordinating that keeps you coming back?

Getting to interact with so many great people is a big part of what keeps me coming back.  One common denominator of all those diverse folks is that they basically want to do something real and positive in the world.  That intention cuts through a lot of differences and barriers especially in an area as culturally diverse as this.

The other reason I keep coming back is that it is just plain fun!

Is there a moment that you feel particularly proud of as an NC?

That has to be the time, several years ago, that we showed up at the staging location around 7:30 in the morning only to find out that the kitchen we were counting on using had been torn out for a remodel.  Somehow we all adjusted on the fly, pitched in, and made it happen anyway.  It was just one of those occasions that really proved the power of teamwork.

What do you like most about your neighborhood?

A big part of what I love about Gateway is that it is an area with absolutely huge potential that is just now starting to come to fruition–so there is a lot of excitement building out here. This area was designated a Regional Center some years back because it sits strategically at the confluence of several freeways and multiple modes of transportation, so it’s a super convenient place to live and is slated for significant growth.  In the meantime this has become the most diverse spot, not only in the city of Portland, but the entire state of Oregon, so there is potential for this to become an International district on top of being an Eco District.

As a tree lover, however, it was the large stands of mature Douglas firs that won me over.

What is your favorite tree in your yard or neighborhood? Why?

Maybe because I am originally from Texas and there was nothing quite like them down there, but Doug firs are my absolute favorites.  There are are several enormous Doug firs on my property and many in my neighborhood, so it feels almost like being in the forest right here in the city.  There is something about the scale and presence of these majestic trees that puts things in perspective for me.  It’s humbling to know they were here long before I arrived and will likely long outlive me.  Also, those young fir needles in the spring make a very nice tea!

Anything else to add about your neighborhood, being an NC, or Friends of Trees

One of the benefits of volunteering for Friends of Trees is getting to meet Portland’s other tree lovers.  That being said, I’d like to end with a blatant  plug for my little neighborhood.  This specific area of Hazelwood, roughly between Glisan and Halsey and 102nd Ave and 122nd Ave (once called Ellenwood) has some amazing stands of mature Doug firs.  The more I learn about these trees, the more I understand how they communicate with each other and actually need to live together.  Sadly, I have seen about a dozen giant trees cut down since I have been here, to make room for development or by folks that don’t quite understand their value.  While my neighbors and I are planting as many as we can, I invite any tree lovers to check this area out.  If you like affordable, mid-century homes on large lots under majestic Doug firs, this might be a great place for you.  For me, it feels like a real privilege to live amongst these big trees.

Thanks to Chris for all his inspired support of Friends of Trees!

Want read more from real people who love this role? Check out Martha’s spotlight here, another excellent Neighborhood Coordinator who’s helping to get more trees in SE Portland. If you are still reading by this point, you are probably our next great Neighborhood Coordinator. Sign up HERE.

You may give our Volunteer & Outreach Program a call or email and we’ll answers any questions you may have about Neighborhood Coordinating and volunteering in general with Friends of Trees: 503-595-0213, [email protected]