Foot Patrol Coordinator, Former Board Member
Imagine growing up in the shadow of Mt. Tabor Park and as a young child of seven thinking of the park as a vast forest. Imagine experiencing the park for sixty-seven of your seventy-four years and being a part of what has made you the person you are. Most of us likely cannot imagine this, but Dennis Puetz, the most recent Friends of Mt Tabor Park Rock Star, can because he grew up in the South Tabor neighborhood and has a deep connection to the park which has developed over years of connecting with the park and using it in many ways. For Dennis, the park has been everything from a place to enjoy and be a part of as he has done while playing tennis and running trails to a place of solace when he and his family gathered there after his mother’s funeral. Now Dennis connects as an active and committed volunteer with Friends of Mt. Tabor Park.
Motivated by a sense of wanting to give something back to a place that had been such an integral part of his life, Dennis joined FMTP in 2007 after seeing a table set up in the main parking lot advertising FMTP. He became a member of the Foot Patrol, and on his first outing spent over four hours picking up trash while walking the entire park. His commitment as a volunteer with the foot patrol was so strong that in 2015, Beau Russell, the foot patrol coordinator at the time, asked Dennis if he would take charge of the Foot Patrol. Dennis agreed, and he is now in his seventh year in this critical position within FMTP.
Dennis quickly set about converting the Foot Patrol to all digital record keeping using the FP’s Gmail account and created a grid map to help locate anything within the park. The grid map is used by FMTP, Parks, the Portland Police Bureau, the fire department, the City of Portland, Weed Warriors, the Visitor Center, and the Foot Patrol. Dennis considers the grid map a significant accomplishment, simple but ever so useful. Other innovations Dennis has implemented are the Foot Patrol newsletter, spreadsheets that document all efforts by volunteers and the FP, restoring and adding trail markers, creating the Adopt-a-Trail program, establishing an annual budget for the FP, and making “how to” videos to instruct volunteers in such things as graffiti removal and the cleaning and repainting of trail markers.
During Dennis’s tenure as leader of the Foot Patrol, membership has increased, and the park is cleaner than it has ever been, testaments to Dennis’s commitment to the park as a volunteer, a role he comes by naturally. Both his parents were themselves committed volunteers and were role models for him. His volunteerism has deep roots in the community and Dennis has an impressive resume. His volunteer achievements are numerous and varied, from being president of the Oregon Area Chapter of the Porsche Club of America to Sellwood Neighborhood Association president. Dennis has also served on the FMTP board and was Friend of the Year in 2017. He has no plans to retire as coordinator of the Foot Patrol.
Dennis has done much for a place he loves and cherishes, and he is now bringing his daughter Adriane and his granddaughter Evie to the park whenever possible. Their connection to the park through Dennis is his most significant and lasting contribution to Mt. Tabor Park.