Mike Valescu: Professional Volunteer and Award Winner

Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 4:52pm

By Jill Capotosto, Volunteer Engagement Intern

Meet Mike Valescu, professional volunteer, with over 23 years in the industry. He is an expert in volunteering around Austin, especially with Keep Austin Beautiful. If you’ve joined us for Clean Sweep, volunteered to mulch around Mable Davis Park, or participated in a custom service project with your coworkers, most likely you have worked with Mike. You may remember him by his characteristic willingness to lend a hand, or his readiness to share a funny story.

Mike stands among bamboo pulled from the trail during a 2007 clean up. 

This past year, Mike ramped up his involvement assuming new leadership positions at service projects. He has led custom service projects with corporate teams, in addition to his ongoing commitment to the cleanup and restoration of Country Club Creek.

Country Club Creek is a series of natural springs and tributaries that originate southwest of the intersection of Ben White Blvd and I-35 and flow into the Colorado River. Mike and The Country Club Creek Trail Association (CCCTA) started their work on the creek back in 2004 with the construction of a mile-long trail that follows the creek through dense forest. Two years later, CCCTA received Keep Austin Beautiful’s Community Involvement Award.

   

Groups of volunteers led by Mike during this long tenure as a volunteer in Austin.

Today, the trail connects to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, allowing walkers, runners, and cyclists from adjacent neighborhoods to easily enjoy Austin’s most iconic lake. But the vision doesn’t end there!

Mike and members of the Southeast Austin Trails and Greenways Group (SEATAG) have been working with The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, and the East Riverside/Oltorf Combined Neighborhood Plan (EROC) to build an extension of the existing trail to connect Roy Guerrero Park to Mable Davis Park. Eventually the trail will connect further to Williamson Creek Greenbelt and eastward to McKinney Falls State Park.

Even with these exciting plans ahead, Mike and CCCTA are staying focused on the creek they love, continuing their vigilance in addressing the challenges of rapid trash build up and invasive bamboo, ivy, and grape vines. Each year, CCCTA pulls almost a ton of bamboo from the trail and enough trash from the creek to fill several large dumpsters. Each piece of trash he and his fellow volunteers pull out of the creek is one less piece that flows into the Colorado River. Mike views every full dumpster as a victory.

For his many years of dedication to our city, Keep Austin Beautiful is excited to honor Mike with the Dennis Hobbs Individual Achievement Award. We invite you to join us in recognizing Mike Valescu and the rest of our Annual Award Winners at Beautify Bash on November 17th at Umlauf Sculpture Garden.