The Full Moon Pickin’ Party—A Natural for Volunteers
Like many people whose professional life keeps them behind a desk, Pat Dishman longed to be outside. Unlike many people in that circumstance, Pat did something! Ten years before she retired, she began volunteering on weekends with Friends of Warner Parks.
Only nine miles from downtown Nashville, the fields and forests of Percy and Edwin Warner Parks provide a nature experience in their 3,100 acres to a million people annually. In support of this 91-year-old treasure in the city and working in partnership with the Metropolitan government, the Friends of Warner Parks organization coordinates volunteers, raises funds, carries out trail maintenance, preserves the historic aspects of the parks, and provides nearly 1,400 educational programs each year—plus six Full Moon Pickin' Parties! (After all, Nashville is Music City!)
On the Friday nights closest to the full moon, May through October, musicians and music lovers come out Percy Warner Park's Equestrian area to make music under the stars. Three bands play "on stage" during the course of this family-friendly evening, but everywhere else are impromptu groups of people playing their own instruments with friends and strangers alike. Everyone is having fun!
A very popular event, the Pickin' Parties raise money for the various projects of the Friends of Warner Parks, but the Friends are also investing their time and energy as volunteers so that the funds go into making the parks a place for all to enjoy for free. Pat and her husband typically staff the booth selling "BeFriend Warner Parks" T-shirts.
But Pat has done many different things, including rolling up her sleeves to help rid the parks of invasive plants, planting new trees, and assisting with the work needed to open a new section, the Burch Reserve, which was purchased and prepared by the Friends, adding more than 200 acres to the parks exclusively for hikers. While "trail maintenance" may sound daunting to unskilled or older volunteers, Pat has great praise for how well the volunteer coordinator, Paul Fowler, matches the task to the skill and energy levels among the ones who come to lend a hand. She credits him also for developing a culture of helping volunteers learn new skills so they enjoy the work and are proud of their accomplishment and contribution.
To find out more about the Friends of Warner Parks, go to warnerparks.org. Or come by the parks' Nature Center, where you may well be greeted by Pat Dishman, who also volunteers in the museum. But you won't find her behind the desk!