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  • Friends of Downs Park Secretary Cheryl Schwabline and Treasurer Stephanie McGregor received their Volunteer of the Month awards from Voice Editor Dylan Roche.
    Photo by Zach Sparks
    Friends of Downs Park Secretary Cheryl Schwabline and Treasurer Stephanie McGregor received their Volunteer of the Month awards from Voice Editor Dylan Roche.

Volunteers Make Downs Park Safe, Welcoming And Fun

Zach Sparks
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June 12, 2018

Friends of Downs Park Secretary Cheryl Schwabline and Treasurer Stephanie McGregor both see the 236-acre site as a vital part of Pasadena rather than just another location.

Schwabline started volunteering with the Friends of Downs Park in an unofficial capacity and became a member in 2015 after her husband, William, passed away.

“I got into it because my husband had dementia,” Schwabline explained. “We walked the trails all the time, and he seemed to be at most peace when he was there.”

In April 2016, McGregor joined so she could spend more time with her grandmother, Teresa Barrett, a longstanding Friends of Downs Park member.

As co-chairs of Community Family Day, which drew about 3,000 attendees on June 1 despite the threat of rain, they again proved their worth to organization.

“We had to coordinate parking, get portable toilets, secure spots for vendors,” McGregor said.

Schwabline added that, “Stephanie is a hard worker, and between the two of us, we pulled it together.”

The rain did cause the cancelation of the first show in the summer concert series, which McGregor and Schwabline also oversee, but it commenced June 10, and will return with concerts on June 17 and June 24.

Those events included, the two volunteers have plenty to do with the success of the Friends of Downs Park.

“She keeps our finances in order, she maintains our books,” Schwabline said of McGregor, adding, “I keep the minutes, send out thank you notes and basically keep us organized.”

Asked about their favorite events, the ladies pointed to Lunch with the Easter Bunny and Cookies and Cocoa with Santa, when Schwabline gets to transform into Mrs. Claus.

“I’m a nanny to three little boys,” McGregor said. “I like the events we do for kids, and we don’t do those to raise money.”

The concert series is a free event, although the group accepts donations. Community Family Day is also free, although some activities are offered at a small charge.

“Everything that we get goes into the park,” McGregor said, “whether it’s replacing bricks in Mother’s Garden or maintaining the flag poles. We find the funds for anything the county can’t do.”

Schwabline said, “Our goal is to provide a very safe, welcoming park for Pasadena residents. We want to do as much as we can at no cost. We don’t want to gauge people for money. Sometimes we charge nominal fees, just so that we’re not operating from a deficit.”

The Fiscal Year 2019 county budget, if approved, will provide $549,000 toward a new amphitheater, to go with $124,000 approved already, allowing the board of directors to use the money on other items, such as a drop-down movie screen.

While volunteers are always looking for funds, they also need new members. “Three, maybe four of our members don’t have a senior pass,” McGregor joked.

McGregor is expecting a child, who will become the newest member of the Downs Park family. As for Schwabline, “I will stay with the park as long as I can walk and breathe.”

Stay updated by liking the “Friends of Downs Park Inc” Facebook page. To volunteer, visit www.friendsofdownspk.org, select the “About Us” header and click on “Apply for Membership.”

After the summer concert series concludes in September, the next large event is the trick-or-treat trail, which will open October 20.


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