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Volunteer Spotlights
Here in Saint Paul, we have incredible, dedicated, and talented volunteers who help to keep our parks, gardens, and natural areas healthy and beautiful. We would like to share their stories with you.




Debby Smith

Debby Smith, a long-time Garden Steward volunteer, manages not one, but three, gardens around Lake Como.

Debby started volunteering around Lake Como in 2009, managing the East Gateway Gardens at the intersection of Gateway Dr. and East Como Blvd., where you are likely to see tulips and daffodils each spring. Over the last four years, Debby has added the Round Garden near the Lexington Pkwy. bridge and, most recently, the North Como Garden to her care—which boasted morning glories this year, reaching all the way to the top of their post. 

Between planting, weeding, watering, and mulching, Debby notes how often she gets to share her love of gardening with passersby who ask about the plants and her work.  Debby remarks that gardens are important because “they connect you to different times of your life, different memories.” 

In addition to gardening, Debby also devotes her time to helping care for her grandson and volunteering with Simpson Housing.


For more than three years, HealthPartners has volunteered with Saint Paul Parks and Recreation to help keep Como Regional Park clean.

As Park Stewards, HealthPartners employees have dedicated more than 500 hours to picking up litter around Lake Como, the Como picnic grounds and McMurray Fields. Each summer, many department leaders coordinate a time for their departments to volunteer in one to two hour shifts, often using this time for team building exercises.

Each year, more departments sign up to clean up the park, while a handful of departments continue to volunteer each year. Pictured below are two departments that return each year to volunteer.
 hp-appt-center  hp-infosystems-tech
 Appointment Center, HealthPartners Information Systems and Technology, HealthPartners

Meghan Fugitt, senior quality coordinator, organized the cleanup for her deparmtnet, Care Innovation and Measurement. "Our group enjoyed working together to clean up around Como Lake, and it was great to give back to our community," explains Fugitt. "It was especially motivating when our group was thanked for keeping the park clean by walkers, bikers and runners!"

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Questions? Contact Ryanna Jackson, Volunteer Coordinator, at or 651-632-2411.

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