Volunteer Spotlight: Mark Rivinus!

News // April 08, 2021

FOW Crew Leader Mark Rivinus sees working for FOW as a way to give back to the unique space that is Wissahickon Valley Park and build a community at the same time. Here’s why he’s out in the Wissahickon:

How did you decide to volunteer with FOW?

I was always curious about how trails were built. I’ve seen maintenance teams reconstructing trails in Utah and Washington, and I wanted to learn. I realized that I could give back to a place I’ve used many times over in many different capacities. The more I got to know the passionate FOW team and the more exposure I had to the eager FOW volunteers and the eclectic mix of crew leaders all tied together by their love of the park, the more assured I was that I chose a cause that would have immediate impact on people’s lives.

What do you love most about the Wissahickon?

Having grown up in Chestnut Hill, with easy access to the Wissahickon gorge, I took it for granted that every city had great parks. Upon returning to Philadelphia after 50 years away, I now know that this is not true; I now know that there is no portion of any city park in this country that compares with the Wissahickon for physical beauty, for geologic interest, for both pre- and postcolonial history. When I was nine years old my family took a trip to climb Mount Olympus in Washington State. For months before this trip, we all would put on our hiking boots and sand-filled backpacks and hike up and down the hills of the gorge to get into mountain hiking condition. In what other city park in the United States is this possible?

Why did you decide to volunteer with FOW?

My father was the president of FOW for many years. When I returned to Philadelphia, I felt there was no choice but to join right away.

How have you adjusted to volunteering in the time of COVID-19?

I have found working weekday “stewardship” shifts with Shawn Green, Dave Bower, and Varian Bosch to be the best part of my get-out-of-the-house time since March 2020.

What have you enjoyed most about volunteering?

Working with other Wissahickon lovers refuels my belief in the beauty of our valley and in the preservationist instinct that nourishes our community.

Want to work in the Wissahickon? Sign up for a service day at fow.org/volunteering.