The Herald Bulletin

September 26, 2010

Parks and wrecks: Volunteers pitch in to help

By Dave Stafford
The Herald Bulletin

— ANDERSON­ — Something wasn’t right in the Indian Meadows neighborhood. Mike McCord, 85, made it right.

A city beautification area installed years earlier at Apache and Dakota drives was among dozens of non-park green spaces around the city that the Anderson Parks Department had maintained until budget cuts this year made it impossible. The plot grew wild with weeds and became a neighborhood eyesore.

McCord walked daily in his neighborhood. “Every time I walked by, I thought, ‘Somebody ought to do something about that,’” he said. “One day, I thought, ‘By golly, I’m somebody. I’ll do it myself.’”

So earlier this year, McCord began clearing out the island a couple of hours each day. “It took me a week and a half, two weeks, but I got all the weeds out of it,” the Delco-Remy retiree said. “It started out as, ‘I’ll show them,’” he said.

“He took a disastrous area and made it look decent,” said neighbor Pat Murphy.

McCord is far from the only person whose volunteer spirit is paying off for the parks department.

Keith Morris, who moved to Anderson just last year, immediately found a parks system where he could lend a hand. He has adopted and mows Edgewater Park near his home.

“When I moved here, I looked around for work for a while, and my wife said, ‘You’re happiest when you’re volunteering anyway,’” Morris said.

“There’s so much need, basically. My wife has a job so we can afford to do it, and I guess it’s my way of giving back to the community.”

Anderson Parks Department maintenance superintendent Tom Tacket has praised Morris and other volunteers who have stepped up to help out in an era of slashed budgets. Morris said Tacket “has had me go out and cut limbs that have fallen because he doesn’t have the staff to do it.”

Morris said he’s disturbed by the amount of litter he sees in city parks. “My wife and I walk frequently, and it’s nothing to pick up four grocery bags full on a short walk. ... If you carry it in, why don’t you carry it out?”

While discussing his volunteer effort, McCord said he made a speech at his church recently about words and deeds. “It’s OK to think about something and make plans, but the minute you start thinking, you better start getting ready to act. If you don’t, you better stop thinking about it.”

McCord said the work has had other benefits. “It gives me a good frame of mind, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. ... I’ve gotten more out if it than I put into it.”



Contact Dave Stafford: 648-4250, dave.stafford@heraldbulletin.com