Mission Memphis Day 10: Overton Park Conservancy

 The Experience

Overton Park Conservancy hosted A Magical Night in Overton Park, which was a nighttime fundraiser held in their formal gardens. I was intrigued by the event invitation, which said, “Prepare to be bewitched by one of our city’s treasures.” I volunteered to help set up for their event that evening. Even in the daylight, it was obvious the final product would be incredible.

A Magical Night at Overton Park

When I pulled up to the event I saw a familiar face. Scout Anglin spotted me and asked if I would help her carry some “stuff” from her car up to the event. The car door swung open to reveal 20 pizzas for the volunteers! Already off to a good start!

We dropped off the pizza and I had a chance to chat with some of the other volunteers. For example, I met Emily Smith – Emily is new to Memphis and her goal is to volunteer once a week. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. I know for a fact she volunteered twice just this weekend! She said that she and her husband really like Memphis because everyone has been very friendly and welcoming. So, Emily (and husband), welcome to Memphis! I also had a chance to meet Daniel Atlas: firefighter/paramedic by trade and volunteer extraordinaire in his spare time. He seems to be a jack of all trades and in addition to his work with the Overton Park Conservancy, donates his time generously to Roots Memphis and BRIDGES. Thank you both for all that you do!

Event set up

I also had the opportunity to talk with the Director of Volunteers and Events, Susan Green. Considering the fact that Susan was prepping to host a high profile event in just a few hours, she was very laid back and chatted with me at length about the mission of the Conservancy and the goals for the event. When I thanked her for spending so much time with me, she quickly pointed out that it was possible because of the wonderful volunteers who had worked so hard in the morning. “Because of our great volunteers we’re way ahead of schedule,” she told me. Susan is very knowledgeable about the park and told me several interesting facts. First, I learned that the money from the event would go towards a brand new state of the art playground in Overton Park.  Intrigued, I pressed her for details, but she gave up little else, saying only, “It’ll be like nothing you’ve ever seen!” She also said that the park has a veteran’s memorial, which displays the names of every Shelby County veteran who died in battle. Next time you’re in the park, keep an eye out for both of these.

I also asked Susan about the importance of the park and the volunteers. She told me that most life-long Memphians can tell stories about coming to the park with family and friends over the years. She said the future holds great things for the park: “It’s all coming together and there are big things on the horizon.” In terms of the volunteers, Susan said they’re building a group of “core volunteers.” She explained, “we’re cultivating relationships with our volunteers – we want them to be part of a team and to take ownership over the park and help us develop its true potential.” Her parting message was simple: “We hope our volunteers can say they had a good time, felt like their work made a difference, met new friends, and will spread the word about the park.” Sounds good! Sign me up!

How to Help


  • Sign up to volunteer for events throughout the year
  • Be an Educational Programs Volunteer and lead kids on tours of the old forest
  • Participate in regular gardening activities
  • Join TOP – Team Overton Park. This group acts as informal park rangers – keeping an eye out for anything amiss in the park and reporting back to the office
  • Take advantage of volunteer opportunities for groups and families.
  • Email Susan Green at sgreen@overtonpark.org to learn more about Overton Park’s events and volunteer opportunities

Donate! There are many donation options and every bit helps!

Become a Member! Your membership gets you some cool Overton Park gear like t-shirts and bumper stickers, while also supporting the park.

Just visit! Come explore the park and all that it has to offer! Check out the Shell, the golf course, the playground or the new dog park. Come see why Overton Park is called the “Memphis gem.”

If you want to know more about volunteering, but aren’t quite ready to jump in, email me at sarah.petschonek@gmail.com. Thinking about helping is the first step!

What comes after the 30 Days of Mission Memphis?  Volunteer Bound! I’m traveling across the country to promote volunteerism and I want to take you with me!

Screen shot 2012-12-02 at 7.31.56 PM


This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s