This week, we remember APF super volunteer Mike Valescu, whose tireless work, alongside Malcom Yeatts, made Austin’s outdoor spaces better for all.
Mike was a dedicated volunteer with groups like Keep Austin Beautiful, Central Area Master Naturalists, Austin Parks Foundation and TreeFolks, and was unmatched in his commitment to our community and our environment. The greenspace and trail along Country Club Creek benefitted from his advocacy and volunteer efforts.
On Saturday, January 27, Mike was memorialized with a tree planting event led by TreeFolks at Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metro Park. One hundred community volunteers planted over 1,200 trees in Mike’s honor!
“Mike brought a joyous attitude to everything he did, more so than almost anyone I have ever met. His impact on our parks cannot be overstated, especially in Southeast Austin. But Mike may be best known for the connections he formed with so many people along the way. Whether it was folding gloves, planting trees or carrying rocks – his stories, insights and attunement to others shined through and made the job memorable and special. Mike was a very well-loved guy, and his presence will be sorely missed in the parks that he was so instrumental in improving.” – Barry Rivera, APF Senior Programs Manager
For nearly 20 years, Malcolm Yeatts and Mike Valescu worked together to improve the Country Club Creek Greenbelt trail. Since 2004, Yeatts and Valescu helped with building and maintaining the trail. In 2015, the property was purchased by the city, and though ownership changed, the same group of community volunteers continued to improve the greenbelt.
Yeatts recalls it taking four years–and 12 major projects–to remove all the trash out of the greenbelt.
Once the trash was removed, they were able to create mountain bike trails in partnership with Austin Ridge Riders throughout the greenbelt. Another major upgrade: an information kiosk. The kiosk came from an APF Impact Grant and helped to increase the number of volunteers at Country Club Creek Greenbelt events.
“We constantly remind Austin residents that Austin parks need volunteers to help maintain their beauty.” – Malcolm Yeatts
The addition of mountain bike trails and an information kiosk helped Yeatts, Valescu and community volunteers expand their impact. The kiosk features events and organizations that Country Club Creek Greenbelt works with to maintain the trail.
To learn more about Country Club Creek Greenbelt, or to get involved, check out their Facebook page.
Photos and tree saplings courtesy of TreeFolks.