Volunteer Spotlight: Leon Kozlowski
Leon Kozlowski set a personal goal this summer to volunteer for 100 hours with TreePeople. As if that wasn't enough, Leon decided to travel to TreePeople's expansive sites through Los Angeles County solely by bicycle! He called it his 100 hours, 1000 miles challenge, and after a long summer, Leon met his goal last weekend. So, we decided to sit down with Leon to talk about his journey.
TreePeople: First of all, Congratulations on meeting your goal, Leon! You are definitely going to inspire others to follow in your footsteps. What got you started with this idea of bicycling for 1000 miles and volunteering for 100 hours all in one summer?
Leon Kozlowski: I have no idea what gave me the idea - I just started. I started riding my bike in 7th grade when I was forced to ride my bike to school. I felt like giving back to society this year.
TP: Did you do anything special to prepare for hours upon hours of biking this summer? Did you start a workout program first, or did you just go for it?
LK: My workout program was just randomly going to Simi Valley and a bunch of different places and then just going home.
TP: Did the biking get easier over time?
LK: Well, going up the hills got definitely a lot easier after countless times of going to TreePeople.
TP: You were timing yourself, right? What was your record [from Ventura Blvd. & Coldwater Canyon], to TreePeople?
LK: My record was 10 minutes.
TP: So, let's talk a little bit about your volunteering side of your goal. You spent 100 hours volunteering, tell people a little bit about the kinds of things you did with that 100 hours of volunteering.
LK: In the 100 hours, I've learned how fun life can be without the internet (laughs); that there is a lot of work to do in the offices and in the nursery and it's really fun with a great atmosphere. Out in the field with street tree care and mountain restoration you learn a lot about gardening. You learn about which species are good for [our area], which are bad, which don't belong here, and how to fix plants.
TP: So, you did the offices, nursery, mountain restoration and tree care. Did you have a favorite?
LK: My favorite, possibly, is mountain restoration because I get the most miles from it and its really fun running around with buckets and getting splashed!
TP: Nice. Did you have any favorite moments volunteering?
LK: Well, my very first time volunteering I felt a little out of place because I didn't know anyone. But then about 5 minutes later I was talking to everyone and I really loved it.
TP: You finished your goal last Saturday. I was talking to our Mountain Restoration Manager, Brian Rekart and he told me that you met your 1,000 mile goal bicyling from Northridge to an event that day in Topanga. So, after working in the hot mountains for three hours, Brian offered you a ride out of the canyon, up the hill...and you took it. How did it feel to ride in a car again?
LK: The air-conditioning felt great!
TreePeople thanks Leon for his endurance and commitment as a volunteer! Leon serves as a model for how one person can help make Los Angeles a healthier, more vibrant place to be.