Volunteer Spotlight: Martha, SE Portland Neighborhood Coordinator

Today I introduce you to Martha: Neighborhood Coordinator to SE Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood and all-around amazing member of our Tree Team. [But before I get too far, if you don’t know what a Neighborhood Coordinator is and why they make our Neighborhood Trees planting events successful year after year, get in the know!]

Recently, Martha and I talked about trees, party-planning, how great it feels to meet new people in your neighborhood, and why we’ve been lucky enough to have her volunteer as a Neighborhood Coordinator year after year.

Read the interview below and get hip to Martha and her connection to Neighborhood Coordinating.

SE Portland Neighborhood Coordinators

Martha (second from the right) and the Neighborhood Coordinator team, posing next to the community potluck lunch at their tree planting event.

You live in the Laurelhurst neighborhood. What do you like most about your neighborhood?

When thinking about which area to live in, I loved how many trees there already are in Laurelhurst! That, and the beautiful park [Laurelhurst Park] were the main reasons.

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

I really like the Staghorn Sumac in my yard; it’s beautiful and has lots of low, spreading branches. And in Laurelhurst park, I love the Ginko and the Dawn Redwood. They are both so cool, like they could be something from a Dr. Seuss book!

Why do you volunteer with Friends of Trees?

There is something about a community organization that is so appealing to me. It’s fun. It’s social.  I’ve volunteered a lot of places, but Friends of Trees really knows how to treat their volunteers. They give you lots of support and encouragement, but also listen to feedback and respect your opinions. And everyone is so nice. I feel like I’ve found a home.

I like getting more familiar with the trees in my neighborhood. Volunteering with Friends of Trees changes the way you look at trees and I’ve learned a lot about Laurelhurst trees.

As Neighborhood Coordinator volunteer, you work closely with FOT staff to plan and deliver 150+ person tree planting events. Why did you choose to join Friends of Trees in this volunteer role?

While I have known of Friends of Trees for over 20 years, it was only about 7 years ago that I started volunteering to drive my pick-up truck, after speaking to Friends of Trees at a Sunday Parkways event.

While at my neighborhood planting event, one of the Neighborhood Coordinators suggested that I should join them. Quickly after that I met Erica [Neighborhood Trees Program Manager] and she gave me a lot of information about Neighborhood Coordinating. It was pretty overwhelming actually, but she let me choose which tasks I felt like I could do and it’s never felt like too much.

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

Friends of Trees’ staff won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do and they won’t waste your time.

Being a Neighborhood Coordinator is fun because it is a bunch of concrete tasks that you can do, then check off the list. I really like that about it – it’s a bit like planning a party. There are a lot of things to do, but once you work with your team of NCs from other neighborhoods, it all comes together quickly. Then you sit back and watch your planting event. And if you are like me, you then wonder what to do with all your time after!

As an NC, you are the face of Friends of Trees in your neighborhood. I like that I can help neighbors answer tree questions or connect them to a staff person at Friends of Trees who can.

Each year I get a little bit better at it too – I can anticipate needs and I know my Neighborhood Coordinator team better.

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

My favorite part about being a Neighborhood Coordinator is meeting all the people. I like seeing my neighbors who would have never thought to plant trees, out there having a great time. Also, we planted a lot of trees in Laurelhurst last year and and that felt really good!
Anything else to add about your neighborhood, being an NC, or Friends of Trees?

Nothing to add, except that we really need Neighborhood Coordinators for both the Kerns and Sunnyside neighborhoods! We don’t have anyone helping in those neighborhoods right now.

Are you a resident of Kerns, Sunnyside, or Bukcman in SE Portland? You could be the next awesome Neighborhood Coordinator. Learn more HERE about the road to becoming your neighborhood’s coordinator for Friends of Trees.