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Volunteers Help Clean Up Massachusetts Parks

August 1, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Some 500 volunteers on Saturday (July 30) and another 200 on Sunday showed up in central Massachusetts to help clean up debris from the June 1 tornado that devastated several communities.

Among the recipients of the volunteer effort were the Village Green Family Campground and Quinebaug Cove Campground, both in Brimfield.

The Springfield Republican reported that State Rep. Todd M. Smola, R-Palmer, who was at the badly damaged Quinebaug Cove Campground, said the response to the call for volunteers has been “phenomenal.” Smola helped spread the word about the cleanup.

“I’ve been moving around the district all day, speaking to homeowners. Everything has just been going wonderfully,” Smola said.

The campground still isn’t open. Christopher DeStefano, of Northford, Conn., said his trailer was “ripped to shreds” in the tornado. His spot was surrounded by trees, overlooking the water. Now there are no trees, and the remnants of his trailer are scattered on the hillside. A church youth group from Pittsfield was helping to pick up the debris.

Eighty-five campers were destroyed at Quinebaug; seven were spared. Warren Marriott, president of the board of trustees, and his wife Janet, the clerk, said they are not sure if they will be able to reopen in time – the season ends Oct. 15. They are in need of cash donations.

At the nearby Village Green campground on Route 20, where Virginia Darlow, 52, was killed during the tornado, close to 100 volunteers were on scene. Nearly 100 campers were destroyed there.

Sisters-in-law Colleen O’Grady, of Chicopee, and Messina O’Grady, of South Hadley, said they were just there to help.

“Pay it forward,” Messina O’Grady said.

The Worcester Telegram noted that Messina O’Grady tried to volunteer with the Red Cross after the storm but was told they did not need volunteers.

“I had to do something, so I created a Facebook page,” she said.

Through the Facebook page, “Tornado Relief Messina O’Grady,” she has connected with more than 1,200 people, organized tornado relief efforts and informed volunteers about upcoming events. She said she came to Brimfield with a group of friends.

The volunteers offered various skill levels. Some helped by moving debris, and others used chain saws to help cut trees. Skidders, Bobcat loaders and all-terrain vehicles were donated to the effort.

Village Green co-owner Meg Twarowski said the volunteers have been busy clearing the 25-acre campground, The Republican reported.

“We worked them hard this morning,” Twarowski said.

“We knew they were coming. We just didn’t know how many. It’s definitely a pleasant surprise,” she said.

JoAnn M. Donovan, who moved back to the campground three weeks after the tornado, said there are “no words to describe the volunteerism that has been going on since this happened. It’s remarkable.”

Sandy Szlachetka, of Wales, president of the Quaboag Sportsmen’s Club, brought a group from the club, as she did last weekend. She said Village Green co-owner Lester Twarowski is a “good man” and a club member, and they wanted to assist him.

Chad and Caitlin Minnette, of Boston, also were part of the volunteer effort at Village Green. It was their first time seeing the tornado’s devastation up close.

“I didn’t think it would be this bad. It’s insane to see,” Caitlin Minnette said.

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