Volunteer Feature: Peter Zalewski

26, Sep, 2016 Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy

In 2010, when we started our volunteer program, nearby resident Peter Zalewski was one of the first to join, and has been a dedicated volunteer since. With a recent move that relocated him a distance from Boston, he can no longer commit to his monthly hours, but he is still a friend and a Greenway supporter, and he promises to get back to volunteer when he is able!


Peter with horticulturist, Tori Hiney

“I instantly felt very welcomed to The Greenway. I met people behind-the-scenes and everyone knew me by name. I loved all the people, both fellow volunteers and the staff,” shared Peter, “The Greenway’s horticulturalists are a knowledgeable and hardworking staff. They know all their species of plants and trees, and I learned a lot, not just about gardening, but also about maintenance.”

Peter joined the volunteer program to garden and make a difference in his community, and in parting ways with Peter from regular volunteering, we reflected with him on all he has helped us with in the past seven years. Peter not only helped the program to expand, but he also saw The Greenway grow into the lush green space it is today. In 2010 when he started, we had a handful of regular volunteers and a few annual projects. That number has grown to 845 volunteers in 2015 and 4,800 hours completed!

Peter with volunteer group

“At first, the trees on The Greenway were small, there was not a lot of shade, and relatively few people came. Through the years as the trees filled in and with continual improvements to the gardens, the park and surrounding area has completely transformed. There are now so many people and businesses coming to the area, and I think The Greenway has brought all of this new development,” explained Peter.

He reminisced about the early days when they did a lot of planting, sometimes with truckloads of flowers to put in the ground. “I always enjoyed the planting days, and also the days when we got to redo gardens. We would make things better. The staff would always be on the lookout for areas that could be improved, and make a new plan to renovate an area, and it would look amazing after. It was great to be a part of that!”

Starting out with lots of weeding, pruning, and mulching, fast forward to this summer, Peter was helping to lead some of our corporate group projects and helping out with maintenance projects as well, such as redoing mortar. “I gained more understanding of the complexity of maintaining an urban park with so many features,” remarked Peter.

While Peter shared with us that he loved each volunteer project on The Greenway, one of his favorites was the Greenway Carousel at the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Grove. “We removed entire trees and gardens to landscape for the new carousel. We saved everything that was removed to relocate to other areas of the park. I was so pleased to see that there was no waste. The time and care that goes into an organically maintained park is impressive and you can see the difference. Things look so much healthier when you grow organically,” Peter added.

Peter, Greenway staff, and volunteers at Peter's goodbye lunch

Peter, Greenway staff, and volunteers at Peter’s goodbye lunch

Peter was one of the first to join The Greenway’s Membership Program, where an annual donation to support our parks comes with special communications, invitations, and benefits. “I give to many charities, and when I moved to Boston, I wanted to help make the city a better place. Because I volunteer with The Greenway and love the organization, I wanted to give something back,” Peter commented.

All of us here at The Greenway will miss Peter out in the park, and Peter reciprocates those feelings, “I will miss the people the most. I developed many friendships with fellow volunteers – you work hard together with people who care about the same things, the city, your park, and horticulture.  And I will miss digging in the dirt.”

Peter was also the star of our Volunteers at Work video in 2015!