Volunteers are the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations like ours. Over the years, volunteers numbering in the tens of thousands have joined us to work for a day on the trails. A small fraction of these volunteers return time and time again, becoming regulars who then become crew leaders. The Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council is lucky to have an elite group of volunteer crew leaders who have worked together for more than a decade. Every year we may pickup or lose a regular volunteer but our core group remains intact. These crew leaders provide continuity in work standards and maintain a quality of work that has merited a positive response from the trail user community, as well as from the agencies overseeing our trails.
The Hank Grateful award is our annual award to the volunteer who has dedicated significant amounts of their time for the benefit of other trail users and thus honoring the exceptional devotion to trails that Hank Grateful exhibited during his life. Jerry received this award in 2005 and 2007. All previous winners of the Hank Grateful award have praised Jerry’s leadership and service.
In the Fall of 2003, Jerry began to show up at our trail work events. The allure of trail work hooked him, and in the following year he contributed over 200 volunteer hours. Putting that into perspective - imagine if you worked 40 days out of the year at an average of five hours a day brushing, lopping, performing tread work and moving rocks into place – this is a significant investment of time and effort. Over the next two years, Jerry worked his way up to being a crew leader increasing his volunteer hours to upwards of 350 hours per year. Navy trained, with additional training in the field by the late Burt Elliott, Jerry became an overnight success. Burt welcomed Jerry to the crew, and soon Jerry was geocaching with the other crew leaders before or after trail work. This camaraderie among our crew leaders presents a very positive face to the volunteers who come out to work with us.
Those responsible for trails in the State Parks, National Parklands, MRCA/Conservancy, COSCA, and other agencies, were soon calling Jerry for his help on projects. Jerry earned their trust with his knowledge of the requirements for archaeology sites, the width of trail corridors, building rock walls and also for handling endless paperwork.
On most of our work days, Jerry is the first to arrive and the last to leave. Before any event, Jerry has loaded his truck with the tools necessary for the day’s work. He has put over 10,000 miles on his truck driving tools and volunteers to our work events. Trail maintenance is done all year long --in the cold winter, the beautiful spring, the sweltering hot summer, and the cool, windy fall. There is no pay for this work, just the personal satisfaction of a job well done.
In addition to all the trail work issues that he handles - Jerry has organized the details and ensured the success of the last several weeklong Backbone Treks; coordinates with colleges/universities for their students to do volunteer trail work; he also helps coordinate scouting projects; organizes community outreach events. Jerry also works with the military, with businesses, and with other non-profits to ensure a steady flow of volunteers for trail work.
We are proud to present the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council LEADERSHIP AWARD to Jerry Mitcham.