Volunteer Spotlight: Giovanni Ferro!
As one of FOW’s skilled volunteer Crew Leaders, Giovanni Ferro repairs trail erosion, assists with park projects, and helps out our volunteer groups on service days. We checked in with him about his experiences in the Wissahickon – and why he’s out in the park in this week’s volunteer spotlight!
How did you decide to volunteer for FOW?
It was a combination of factors. I felt a need for a volunteer opportunity where I could give something back to the community, and volunteering in the Wissahickon seemed like a natural fit. I’ve been coming to the park for the past few years and honestly still can’t get over the fact that we have such an incredible place like the Wissahickon in an urban setting. When I learned FOW was the primary steward of the park, and it was mostly volunteer driven, I knew right away it was an organization I wanted to be a part of.
What do you love most about the Wissahickon?
Just the fact that we have such an incredible green space in the sixth largest city in the country. I love trail running and hiking the trails, and specifically chose to live where I do in Manayunk so I am within walking and running distance of the park.
What is your favorite place in the Wissahickon?
I enjoy all the overlooks and high points, like Lover’s Leap and the Toleration Statue. It really makes you appreciate the impressive geography of the gorge, especially on a cold winter’s day when you can see forever through the empty trees. I especially like getting out to these spots in the early morning or late evening, when you can get a real sense of isolation and solitude in the middle of the big city.
What have you enjoyed most about volunteering?
Too many things to count really. I enjoy the sense of giving back and helping first-time volunteers better connect with the park. The FOW volunteer community is full of talented folks who are passionate about the park, so it’s fun to work with like-minded individuals. It’s also a great opportunity to learn new facts and skills about trail building, nature, and park history. Plus, it gives me a good excuse to spend more time outside in the park!
How do you think FOW contributes to the community?
I think we see that every day with the number of people who come out to visit the park. People need green spaces where they can escape and relax for a little bit. We saw this more than ever this past year during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the Wissahickon was the closest such space for many in the city to get out to improve their physical and mental well-being. I think it was a literal lifeline to a lot of people this past year. The fact that FOW is the primary steward of the park, to me means that they have a huge responsibility toward all these visitors. So even when I am supporting small or unpleasant projects with FOW (like cleaning out Devil’s Pool), I try to remember how these little things add up to make this park special for so many people.
You, too, can be part of making the park special as an FOW Volunteer! Join us for one of our November service days at https://fow.org/volunteering/workinthepark.