Comcast Answers the Call for Parks Help

More than three dozen Fife residents gathered last year to spruce up city parks. That number will jump to several hundred thanks to Comcast's efforts. (File Photo)

Fife's annual Parks Appreciation Day gets a boost this year thanks to a quirk in the calendar that puts it also on Earth Day and Arbor Day as well as on the annual day of volunteerism by one of the larger employers in the city.

Parks Appreciation Day is organizing a clean-up and beautification program that will see hundreds of volunteers with hedge trimmers, rakes and shovels for a few hours of work to make key parks look better. Volunteers will be at Fountain Memorial Park from 9 a.m. to noon and at Hylebos Nature Area from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 21. The Fife Public Arts Commission will also be unveiling the first-ever public art in Fife at a ribbon cutting of "The Throne" statue at 11:45 a.m. in Fountain Memorial Park.

"We have many different things going on this year for Parks Appreciation Day," Fife Parks & Recreation Director Kurt Reuter said. "City staff and residents are working together to improve our parks and the quality of life in our community. This event provides an opportunity to also educate adults and children about the important role parks and open space play in our lives and our community."

Parks Appreciation activities include flower planting, shrubbery pruning, weeding and general park cleanup. While several dozen volunteers traditionally pitch in for the effort, this year is expected to draw record numbers, largely thanks to "Comcast Cares Day" falling on the same day. The company sets aside the day every year to volunteer efforts around communities they serve as a way to get employees more connected to their neighborhoods.

"It's part of our corporate culture to encourage people to give back," Comcast spokesman Walter Neary said. Comcast has a regional call center in Fife, but workers there are not actually going to be the ones volunteering to hack through the Himalayan blackberry and Scotch broom along the Hylebos. Some 200 workers from the Fife call center will actually be doing yard work at Tacoma's new STAR recreation center, while 150 workers from the Comcast office in Puyallup will be doing the grunt work in Fife. That fact was just a matter of matching the number of people with the size of the project.

"As you can imagine, there were a lot of ideas in play," Neary said.

Some 2,200 Comcast workers from around the state – 60,000 around the nation – will be volunteering their Saturday, which creates a logistical juggle to match volunteers with service projects.

"It is really a great time," Neary said. "It's one day when we can celebrate community in a very significant way."

Alongside the trimming and raking volunteers will do that day, other community boosters will be holding the formal dedication of Brenda's Grove on a patch of 5 Acre Park. The area is being named after Brenda Puaokalani, a former city employee who died of cancer a few years ago. The trees are located at the west end of the park.

The arts commission will also be handing out walking trail maps that highlight the new public art pieces that have just been installed around the city.

The pieces and locations are: "The Throne," which is at Fountain Memorial Park; "Valley Roundelay," which is at Dacca Barn; "Dream Followers," which is at Fife City Hall; "Whispering Bird," which is at Fife Pierce County Library; and "Flour Bed," which will be at Brookeville Gardens once that park is opened.

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