Madison Parks and Madison Parks Foundation Honor Volunteers

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 10:15am

On March 5, 2012, the Madison Parks and Madison Parks Foundation hosted an annual volunteer recognition banquet honoring the work of the volunteers in the park system. Every year over thousands of hours and dollars are donated to support our community's parks.

This year a number of organizations and individuals were presented with awards showcasing their on-going commitment.

The Madison Parks Individual Volunteer of the Year was awarded to JoAnn Walker. After almost of decade of deliberation, discussion, and debate the Warner Park Community Recreation Center was opened on September 19, 1999. JoAnne Walker has been there the entire way, working to fulfill its mission of "being gathering place which provides innovative growth and enrichment opportunities for the Madison community and connects people of all ages, races and cultural backgrounds." JoAnne has been key to its success. In her role in the Circle of Friends, she has been instrumental in raising over $90,000 for Warner Park, and for ten years, has dedicated at least 15 hours a week in service at WPCRC and the North Eastside Senior Coalition totaling thousands of hours of service. "I am truly the lucky one," says JoAnn, "I have enjoyed my work at the center, and am grateful for the opportunity."

Like JoAnn, the winner of the Volunteer Group of the Year, has put in an incredible amount of volunteer time and effort into their project. The Friends of Monona Bay have been active for almost six years, working diligently to keep Brittingham Park trash-free along the Monona Bay Shoreline. The Friends of the Monona Bay bring their own hardy corps of volunteers for monthly clean-up days (rain or shine), and have removed 876 bags of trash from Brittingham Park since it started in 2006. "I feel like we've really made a difference in our park," says Nina Emerson, volunteer for the FOMB group. Madison Parks is thrilled to recognize this long-time dedicated group.

Madison Parks presented the Project of the Year to Tenney Park Shelter Group, to a dedicated group of committed citizens and neighbors. This group was essential to the design and building of the new John Wall Family Pavilion at Tenney Park. This group worked tirelessly and raised $550,000 in less than five years. This group volunteered many hours, held focus groups, and served as an advocate for this project. This new pavilion will proudly and efficiently serve the community for many generations, and Madison Parks is grateful for the commitment and initiative of the Tenney Park Shelter Group. John Wall stated, "My family has long enjoyed Tenney Park and we were grateful for the opportunity to give back."

The Madison Park Spirit of Service award is new this year and was created for volunteers to nominate fellow volunteers who embody the enthusiasm and commitment inherent in long-term Parks volunteer work. Jean Sweet was named as the inaugural Spirit of Service awardee. She has served on the Midvale Heights Neighborhood Board for over thirteen years focusing on keeping the neighborhood beautiful. She was the driving force behind the planning of and fundraising for the Tokay Boulevard median gardens and the Bison Prairie Gateway on Midvale Blvd. "It is truly a joy to work with your neighbors and do something you love," said Jean as she received the award. Not only has she dedicated thousands of hours to Madison Parks, but she also has an amazing spirit. Her optimism, enthusiasm and charm are contagious, and her infectious spirit has prompted younger people to get involved and volunteer in the neighborhood. Madison Parks is delighted to recognize Jean's outstanding impact and influence.

Madison Parks not only recognized people for their dedication of time but also the dedication of our partners and sponsors who help make our parks truly extraordinary.

Oscar Mayer/Kraft Foods received the Madison Parks Sponsor of the Year award for being a champion of KaBOOM! Playground Project.-a non-profit organization that helps local communities build a playground Kraft Foods/Oscar Mayer, along with the Goodman Center, Madison Parks, and the local community, came together last October 6th to build a new playground at Wirth Court Park in just one day with the help of 200 volunteers. "It is an honor to give back to a city that has been so good to our company and our employees," said Gary Berger of Kraft Foods. Madison Parks felt it was an honor to work with Oscar Mayer on this event and looks forward to doing great things in the future. In addition, Oscar Mayer is the official hot dog sponsor of Goodman Pool. To achieve official hot dog status, Oscar Mayer donated 5,000 pounds of their famous franks to the Pool. Furthermore they have donated hot dogs to support Ride the Drive.

The Madison Police Department was awarded the Madison Parks Partner of the Year award. Madison Parks and the Madison Police Department have worked together on several initiatives in our community's parks, including Parks Watch, specific parks and large events. Chief Noble Wray noted, "The partnership between the Madison Police Department and the Madison Parks Department is at the essence of community policing. Together we have been able to successfully work on a number of important initiatives to include improvements at Olin Park, Vilas Park, and Brittingham Park. In addition, this partnership has helped keep the peace at large events like Rhythm & Booms, and downtown demonstrations. I applaud Superintendent Kevin Briski for his inspiration in forging this strong relationship between our departments."

"Thank you to everyone who has donated their time, energy or money to make Madison Parks one of the best park systems in the nation," says Kevin Briski, Madison Parks Superintendent. "We are looking forward to another productive and exciting year in 2012 with our partners."

If you would like to learn more about how you can get involved in the Madison Parks, please visit us at


  • Laura Whitmore266-5949