Volunteers Ensure that Benson Park is Always Picturesque
September 22, 2017
by David S. Morin
Have you ever wondered as you walk through Benson Park how the many gardens, picnic areas, pathways, and walking trails are maintained? Most of this work is completed by volunteers on a weekly basis and during several cleanup days each year. The volunteers range from Benson Park Committee members, adopt a spot volunteers, concerned residents and students who take much pride in the appearance of Benson Park.
A small platoon of volunteers converged on Benson Park on Sept. 16 for the Benson Park Cleanup Day. At 9 a.m., the group spread out across the park completing several projects from spreading loam, planting grass seed, weeding gardens, cleaning up fallen apples, pinecones, and branches to spreading crushed asphalt along a pathway in the Butterfly Garden.
Barbara Bouchard spent the day on her hands and knees weeding one of the many gardens. She first became aware of the park after her nephew spent many hours in the park enjoying the park’s many features and his love for fishing. Her nephew who was very fond of the park passed away some time ago, but his one wish was to have a tree planted in the park where the family could meet and remember him. The boy’s wish became a reality when a tree was planted within the park by his family. Today Barbara said the park is worth all of her efforts, and she continues to volunteer in the park making as many cleanup days as she can.
The mother-and-daughter team of Linda and Jessica Kipnes spent several hours with rakes and shovels spreading crushed asphalt along a path in the park. The Butterfly Garden is a project of the Hudson Junior Woman’s Club of which Linda is a member. Along with her daughter Jessica, who recently returned to her hometown, Linda enjoys working in the park. Linda makes as many cleanup days in the park each year she possibly can. Since returning home Jessica has spent several hours a week in the park completing many maintenance and landscaping chores. Both are amazed at how many people use the park on a day-to-day basis and believe a few hours of hard work on what was a hot and humid day is time well spent.
Marian Muskiewicz, also a member of the Hudson Junior Woman’s Club, is considered the garden expert. During her many years in Hudson, she tended many large gardens at her home. When she retired she sold that home and moved to a senior complex that did not allow for much gardening to take place. Marion said Benson’s was the perfect place for her to continue her love for gardening and also give back to the community. During this day Marion trimmed back the plants, weeded the garden and took care of other needed tasks so everything would need to look its best. She is very proud of the park, and, on many occasions, brings neighbors from her neighborhood to the park to walk along the paths and enjoy Benson’s beauty.
Lily Wagner, Katerina Panagakis, and Natalia Correia, all students from the Tyngsborough (Mass.) Middle School came to help at the park to complete a school project. The three girls fulfilled their social studies class assignment of performing a good deed in honor of those lost on Sept. 11, 2001. The girls wielded rakes, shovels and a wheelbarrow and were assigned to rake out the playground area. Within a short time, they completed that task –proud to have worked just below the 9/11 Memorial.
Working in the dirt is not the only task that is completed on clean up days. There is a group who takes care of the needed paperwork, keeps the group hydrated and probably the most important task, feeds the volunteers. These behind-the-scenes people cooked up a feast of everything: macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, Mexican quiche along with several great tasting desserts which a grateful group of volunteers very much appreciated.
Richard Empey has been a volunteer at the since park the beginning. Dick now serves as the vice chairman for the town’s Benson Committee and is the ex officio park go-to person. When work began in the park, Dick was retired and had the time to give back to his community. He and a group of others would come to the park clear brush, cut in the four miles of trails through the wooded area, build bridges, clear picnic areas and complete many of the projects you see today completed in the park. In 2010 he joined the Benson Committee and hasn’t looked back.
At the Sept. 16 event, he worked on a trail and then spent several hours clearing a trail and loaming and seeding a vacated adopt a spot. He is very proud of what has been accomplished within the park. He normally spends at least 15 hours a week working in the park and caring for its landscape. He said one of the benefits of his work is meeting a lot of good people who come to the park each and every day.
When asked what he felt the biggest accomplishment completed in the park has been, Dick provided an unexpected answer. Instead of centering on the volunteers or his work, he focused on the fact that Hudson area residents have a safe place to enjoy time with their families in the outdoors, and that is what the park is all about.