It may have seemed an unlikely pairing. . .Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) and The Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center. However these two cherished Springfield non-profits worked together on Saturday 9/22/12 to improve the public grounds at the Zoo for the community to enjoy during a special volunteer event titled “Habitat Goes to the Zoo!”.
Jennifer Schimmel, Executive Director of GSHFH has this to say. “Our primary mission is to provide decent, affordable housing to families, usually human families.” she laughs. “Although this project falls outside of our typical mission, we are Springfield neighbors with the Zoo and the animals that live there need a little help with their housing as well.” Schimmel adds “GSHFH is very adept at mobilizing and managing volunteers and we are glad to be leveraging that talent on behalf of the Zoo.”
John Lewis, Executive Director of the Zoo in Forest Park says “We have spent much of this season recovering from big property damage from the storms of last year. We are so grateful that we were able to connect with Greater Springfield Habitat to put the finishing touches on many of our exhibits. Habitat volunteers painted most of our wooden buildings & animal sheds which now really look great.”
More than 40 volunteers came out, including a group of eight from STCC. The weather was beautiful, perfect for painting, and the day was filled with laughter. At 3pm the workday ended and we had an appreciation picnic in the center of the Zoo. Tom Kennedy, of United Rentals and the Zoo Board of Directors, gave a moving speech thanking the volunteers from GSHFH and letting them know how their work will benefit both the visitors to the Zoo, and it’s resident animals.
Perhaps the Zoo and GSHFH will work together again in the future! Special thanks go to Laura Browne of GSHFH and Christian Gainer from the Zoo’s Board of Directors for their excellent leadership!