Columbus, Ohio USA
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Friends of Goodale Park Hires Helper
Julie Hallan brings the spirit of friendship and fun to FGP
By Margaret Marten
May 2010 Issue

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Julie Hallan with Max in Goodale Park. Photo © Rick Borgia

Victorian Village resident Julie Hallan was recently appointed part-time volunteer coordinator for the Friends of Goodale Park. In this newly created position (a first for the Friends) Hallan will be responsible for recruiting and training volunteers to assist with events, and increasing the number of workers that plant and maintain the park’s many annual and perennial beds. The paid position, made possible by the Oswald Family Foundation, will provide volunteers with a point person, a leader to offer encouragement and support, helping to strengthen the overall organizational efforts of the Friends of Goodale Park.

A native of Springfield, Ohio, Hallan, 38, is attending The Ohio State University where she studies Russian, Spanish, and linguistics. She and Max, her pet German Shepherd, have spent plenty of time in Goodale Park over the past couple years while living in Columbus, and her roommate Joshua Wood (a childhood friend) has long been a supporter of the Friends of Goodale Park, so when she heard about the open position, Hallan was enthusiastic.

“Josh introduced me to Chris Gillespie at the gala last year, and they were talking about opening this position for a volunteer coordinator. I started talking to people and got involved that way,” said Hallan.

She has experience as both a volunteer and volunteer instructor with the American Red Cross. At the time of Hurricane Katrina, Hallan began working with the organization in Baltimore where she was living with her ex-husband.

“I felt like I just needed to get out and do something. I started volunteering with them and I loved it,” she said.”I thought here’s something I can do and really get something out of it.”

Hallan eventually conducted volunteer orientation classes for the Red Cross, and with the swell of aspiring volunteers at that time, the classes were much larger than usual – as many as 150.

“I never felt like I was the kind of person to get up in front of a large group, but once I did, I got very comfortable with it.

It worked out well with this position because we’re starting to get larger groups, we’re really trying to get the word out.”

As part of her recruitment efforts with the Friends, Hallan has begun posting online to Facebook and Twitter and Columbus Underground. However, getting the volunteers to sign up and then keep coming back is another story. Once the workers show up, the real challenge begins.

“I’m running from one end of the park to the other just to make sure these groups know they are appreciated,” said Hallan.

It’s hard work, and a pat on the back may not be enough to maintain their enthusiasm – but food and drink might fill the bill, and Hallan is delighted to report that the Short North Civic Association has agreed to supply the volunteers with pizza on workdays.

Amenities as simple as food and drink (a cooler with water is kept on site) and encouragement from a dedicated staffer could create a surprising shift in support for the struggling organization.

“Our work days in the park have been a lot smoother with Julie there,” said Rick Frantz, Park Beautification Committee chair, “It’s been great on all levels. We just seem to be getting more done, but at the same time, the events seem more social and fun.”

Hallan admits that her strength lies more in working with people than plants, but that’s good news for the Friends if they want to win the hearts of volunteers. A smile, a show of support, and refreshments offered by a skilled hostess on those sweltering workdays in Goodale Park would seem to be more valuable than a green thumb.

Then, of course, after the work is done, it’s followups and more thank you’s and back to the computer to keep everyone informed, engaged, and truly feeling like a friend.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the Friends of Goodale Park, contact Julie at Visit

© 2010 Short North Gazette, Columbus, Ohio. All rights reserved.

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