2020 – A Year to Forget…and Remember

As this year-from-a-horror-movie comes rapidly, and thankfully, to a close, the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park want to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the many accomplishments of our group during the past year.  Our dedicated volunteers have numerous efforts and successes to be proud of and we are thankful for their perseverance to complete them in the face of a raging pandemic, devastating wildfires, political upheaval, racial conflict and multiple closures of our park and its facilities. 

During these past 12 stressful months of 2020, we:

  • Were awarded a grant of $1,600 in January from the San Mateo County Parks Foundation through their volunteer group grant program and just learned in mid-December that we have been awarded another grant of $1,000 to be received in January 2021.  This money will once again fund the interactive children’s programs that will be held in the spring/summer once the COVID-19 restrictions in the park are lifted.  
  • Were proud to acknowledge and accept awards for exceptional service that were given by the San Mateo County Parks Department to Lakshmi Javadekar and Jayesh Kapoor, our Directors of Website Management for their substantial work improving our website, and to Mila and Adrian Stroganoff for their herculean efforts to re-instate our lapsed 501(c)(3) non-profit status. 
  • Continued to present our monthly series of natural history lectures by local experts…even though the Visitor Center has been closed to the public since mid-March…by switching to a Zoom webinar format.  Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our Director of Programs, Mila Stroganoff, and our Membership Director, Adrian Stroganoff, we have been able to conclude the year by presenting eight, high-quality, educational and entertaining talks via Zoom covering a wide range of topics, such as watershed ecology, mountain lions, coral reefs and mushrooms.  These outstanding and popular talks will continue in 2021 via the Zoom webinar format until the Visitor Center re-opens and we can once again hold them in person.
  • Conceived and developed an educational display on mountain lions that was completed by County Parks Department personnel and hung in the large window of the Visitor Center in late October so that it can be viewed and enjoyed by park visitors while the Visitor Center remains closed during the pandemic.  Our Vice-President, Mark Golembiewski, prepared the information contained in the two display panels and then worked with Katherine Wright of the County’s Sign Shop and Head Ranger Matt Del Carlo to make it a reality.  We also developed a brochure-type handout on mountain lions using the information collected for the display panels, but are still awaiting final editing, production and printing of the brochures by the County Parks Department for public distribution.  
  • Re-started our monthly Trail Day (second Saturday of each month) and Habitat Restoration Day (third Saturday) work parties in September after months of being shut down, with the condition that work groups cannot exceed 10 individuals and that we observe COVID-19 protocols.  In addition, we have begun working with the County’s Volunteer Coordinator, Stu Smith, to provide volunteers to help plant native plants (seedlings) within the park in conjunction with the County’s habitat restoration plans.  In our first outing on December 17th, eight of us planted 150 seedlings of three native plant types up along the Valley View Trail.  We are planning to continue these work parties in the new year and invite you to join us. 
  • Continued publishing our bi-monthly newsletter without interruption.  Our long time and beloved Newsletter Editor, Carolyn Pankow, never ceases to amaze us with her diligence and perseverance (without complaint) in always gathering, assembling and packaging the information and beautiful photos that go into each issue.  She is simply a treasure. 
  • Took our “Welcome Desk” outdoors at the end of the year to help bring attention to the new mountain lion exhibit.  Taking advantage of the beautiful late fall weather, we set up a ‘Friends’ table outside the entrance to the Visitor Center on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, and again on Sunday, December 20th, and staffed it with our volunteers who normally serve “desk duty” in the Visitor Center.  We stocked the table with a variety of sale items from our Trailside Store, in addition providing park maps and information to the many folks who came to hike the trails. The response from park visitors was terrific.  Between 42 and 67 visitors stopped by the table each day to chat with us and we ended up taking in about $275 in sales and donations on those three days, signing up four new members and sharing lots of tales of mountain lion sightings in and outside the park.  Returning park visitors were genuinely happy to see us again and the volunteers at the table greatly enjoyed interacting with the visitors once more.  A good time was had by all.  We intend to hold more of these “welcome table” events after the first of the year, weather permitting.  We’ll announce them in advance as we can. 

These accomplishments, as well as others during the year, cause us to smile now and then look forward with hope and inspiration to an even better year of volunteer efforts in 2021.  And most certainly we all are looking forward to an end to the pandemic, the re-opening of our Visitor Center and the full resumption of unrestricted park activities.  We end this year on financially sound footing, with a growing membership of over 100 park lovers and a solid and dedicated Board of Directors focused on improving our organization’s efforts even more in 2021.  Bring on the vaccine!!

All the best to you and yours in 2021!

Judy Bacon, President

Mark Golembiewski, Vice-President