Volunteer Spotlight – August 2014

Name: Rene Vandenbrink
Volunteer since: Spring 2013
Volunteers as: Neighbourhood Tree Captain, Aftercare attendant

Autobiography: In the spring of 2013, I joined ReForest London’s Neighbourhood Tree Captain Program. I decided to focus on promoting tree planting in SoHo, the neighbourhood where I volunteer with Forest City Gallery, a non-profit Artist-Run centre. During my time with ReForest London, I worked to educate my community about tree planting, identify areas in need of trees, and help neighbours register trees with London’s Million Tree Challenge. With the help of the South Central Neighbourhood Tree Captains, I worked to develop tree tours and a tree map for the Normal School grounds which was promoted in conjunction with free tree seedlings at Gathering on the Green. Another Tree Captain and I took the Little Green Wagon Program through SoHo and Rowntree and I recently took the program to SoHo’s annual Junk in the Trunk sale.

Volunteerism with ReForest London and Forest City Gallery brought me to work with Friends of Richmond and Horton to develop a Pocket Park in SoHo with the SPARKS! Neighbourhood Matching Fund. This soon-to-be park involves a small area of land at Richmond and Horton that will feature trees, edible perennials, clover ground cover, a community events board and seating areas.

Reflection on Volunteering: Volunteerism has been an important part of my life since childhood. Growing up in rural Southwestern Ontario, I volunteered with tree planting, 4-H Clubs, school committees and Canadian charities. In London, Forest City Gallery, the SoHo Community Association and ReForest London have provided many opportunities to learn, develop, and work with others to promote the beautiful, healthy and inclusive community that I love.

Thanks for your continued support, Rene!