One Volcano And 18 Volunteers Give One For The “Scooter”

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UNION — The reawakening of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland may have caused no shortage of chaos around the globe, but Union County’s Phil Rizzuto Park is a little cleaner because of it.

To be fair, the volcano is only part of the reason—the rest being a group of volunteers from Fiduciary Trust Co. who spent a recent Friday at the park named after the New York Yankees legend. They pulled weeds, cut back vines, put down mulch and generally gave the heavily-used park a desperately-needed dose of TLC.

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Every year in June, employees of Fiduciary and its parent company, Franklin Templeton Investments, volunteer for public service projects in their respective regions. The Fiduciary employees look for projects in New York and New Jersey, said Katherine Abate, the co-coordinator of the volunteers at Rizzuto.

But it was indirectly due to Eyjafjallajökull that Rizzuto Park made it to the list of projects employees could choose from.

As it turned out, Henry Johnson, the CEO of Fiduciary Trust, was in Europe on business and was delayed getting home because of the volcanic ash that grounded so many flights. When the Short Hills resident was finally able to fly out, however, his flight was to JFK instead of Newark.

As he was “meandering” his way home from the airport, he saw the park named after the Yankee shortstop—and resident of neighboring Hillside. He also saw that it could use some help. When the offer was made to Union County parks officials, it was a done deal.

For Johnson, a die-hard Yankees fan, it was a perfect melding of working outside for the day and his beloved Bronx Bombers. “I loved Phil Rizzuto,” he said. Rizzuto, who was nicknamed “Scooter,” went on to be an announcer for the Yankees after he hung up his cleats.

Last year, employees from Fiduciary Trust donated their time to a half-way house in the Bronx, where they planted a garden, made repairs to the half-way house and painted it.

COLLECTING DEBRIS…at Union County’s Phil Rizzuto Park are Yolanda Villacampa, of Linden, and Cristian Reyna, of New York City. The two were part of a group of volunteers from Fiduciary Trust who spent a recent Friday beautifying the Union park, across the street from Kean University.

The 18 volunteers spent the day weeding, cutting back vines and invasive plants, mulching, raking, and removing fallen tree limbs.

CEO TURNED WEED PULLER…Henry Johnson, CEO of Fiduciary Trust, a subsidiary of Franklin Templeton Investments, pulls weeds at Union County’s Phil Rizzuto Park together with Katherine Abate, project leader. Johnson was on his way back from the airport, after being stuck in Europe due to the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, when he passed the Union park and saw that it could use some help. On a recent Friday, 18 volunteers from Fiduciary spent their day sprucing up the park.

GARDENING AND YANKEE FANS…came together at Union County’s Phil Rizzuto park for a day when volunteers from Fiduciary Trust spent the day sprucing up the park. “I’m a big Yankee fan and (this project) sounded like a nice opportunity to help out,” said Eva Anthony, of Bayonne, as she raked the area in front of the park’s gazebo. With the looping sheers was Leonor Wignall of New York City. Wignall said she was enjoying the clean-up, but “the worms were a problem.”

WAR ON WEEDS…was waged for a day at Union County’s Phil Rizzuto Park. Volunteers from Fiduciary Trust spent a recent Friday beautifying the Union park, across the street from Kean University. The 18 volunteers spent the day weeding, cutting back vines and invasive plants, mulching, raking, and removing fallen tree limbs.


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