For August's Volunteer Spotlight, we interviewed Michael McCall and Josh Wilkerson
L: What kind of volunteer work have you done in Springfield? You had a lot to do with the beautiful blue Historic Springfield banners I have seen popping up on porches, right?
M&J: All kinds! We feel so inspired by seeing others in action and neither of us can sit still for very long. We specifically love to volunteer during both home tours because it's a great way to meet people while showcasing our beautiful neighborhood. Throughout the year we do random things like clean and mow both public and abandoned properties, cut back low hanging tree limbs to make our sidewalks safer while out walking our dogs, we've helped paint the bridge in Klutho Park and the eagles in Confederate Park to brighten those up, we clean and maintain flowers in the planters on the Hogan's Creek bridges, we've helped clear storm drains so they function again, we added patriotic decorations to Klutho for the baseball game, and we helped form the Holiday Society. We've just recently signed on to help coordinate the Christmas Home Tour and the annual Halloween Party, we will be working with SPAR on grant proposals that will help purchase holiday decorations for Main Street, and we are raising funds now to pay for a mural that has been designed and will be installing soon in the neighborhood. We've also contributed to the art installation in Klutho, the off-duty police program, and Porch Fest.
The Springfield banners came about because we like to change our porch up with each season. Usually, Michael creates a flag to hang for each season (flags using cut-out foam hearts for Valentines Day, plastic eggs for Easter, etc.) and he thought having one to mimic the sculpture of the blue Springfield ribbon would be beautiful so sought a vendor who he worked to design the banner. Once hung, there was so much interest from others that we negotiated a deal with the vendor, placed a bulk order, and offered them up so others in Springfield could also enjoy the banner. We felt it was another small way we could help Springfield set itself apart from other neighborhoods here in Northeast Florida.
L: Tell us a little more about the Historic Springfield Holiday Society. It is such a cool idea!:
M&J: We were having a discussion with one neighbor about the fact there was no large Christmas tree in Klutho park and decided we would put that on our to-do list for 2018. In a separate conversation with another neighbor about our mutual love of all things Christmas, we thought instead of us paying outright for a tree for Klutho we would start a group to include holiday loving neighbors to raise funds and really spread the holiday cheer on a much larger scale. Since then we've worked with a wonderful and committed group of residents who have held multiple fundraisers, the largest being a Valentine's Dinner, and we were able to use the money we raised to donate a flagpole to the city. We installed the flagpole in Klutho Park and dedicated it on the Fourth of July. Now that it's in place, we are awaiting a solar light so that the flag can be displayed properly. The city has plans to run electricity to the pole and then at Christmas the flagpole will be converted into a 25' tall Christmas tree. Once that box is checked, we will be working with SIAA to support the Holiday Home Tour while we continue working with the Holiday Society, SIAA, and SPAR towards the purchase of holiday decor to display on Main Street and other neighborhood improvements.
L: What do you love most about the neighborhood, and how long have you lived here?
M&J: We both grew up in very small towns where you knew your neighbors by name, where your neighbors spoke to you as they passed by, and where your neighbors were your friends. We came to Porchfest 2015 and then were invited back for a much more intimate event that December. We both felt so welcomed and at home that we knew there was really no other choice for us but to move to Springfield. We hired a realtor on New Year's Day 2016, placed a contract on a home within weeks, moved in to Springfield in March, and have been happily situated here for just over two years.
L: Do you have any advice for people who want to get involved, but are not sure how they can contribute?
M&J: If a person is looking to become more formally involved, contact SPAR or SIAA. Both are wonderful organizations that do so much to support our community and if a person loves the holidays like we do, the Holiday Society is also a great organization. Certainly feel free to contact the two of us and we will happily connect you with opportunities! We may be reached at HistoricSpringfieldVolunteers@gmail.com and if you don't have the time or are physically unable to participate, you can make a monetary donation. The smallest contribution (be it time, manpower, or financial) can effect positive change in the neighborhood.
L: Can you give us an update on the banners—how can people let you know they are interested in buying one?
M&J: We plan on placing another banner order later this summer. Those interested in purchasing one or more banners should email HistoricSpringfieldVolunteers@gmail.com to be added to the list.
L: Okay...wild card question! Which Crispy’s pizza is your favorite?
M&J: We love the Pearl and we add meatballs. It's delicious!
On behalf of SPAR and your neighbors, thanks for all you do, guys!