Volunteer Spotlight: Geary Yonker, president Kosciuszko Park Advisory Council

by • June 13, 2017 • news, volunteerComments Off on Volunteer Spotlight: Geary Yonker, president Kosciuszko Park Advisory Council10618

Kosciuszko (Koz) Park Facts

2732 N. Avers Ave.

  • The largest Park in Logan Square, measuring over 8 acres
  • Pronounced koz-CHOOSH-koh (It’s easier than it looks).
  • Has an indoor pool, a combination gymnasium and assembly hall with a stage, baseball/softball fields, a football/soccer field, a tennis court, an artificial-turf soccer field & an ADA-accessible playground
  • Named after Tadeusz Kościuszko who was a Polish freedom fighter that fought in the American Revolutionary War.
  • He was life long friend of Thomas Jefferson who called him “As pure a son of liberty, as I have ever known…”
  • Friday Family Nights July 7th to August 4th
  • Midnight Circus in the Parks comes to Koz Park September 30 and October 1 with shows at 2pm & 5pm
  • Funds raised from Midnight Circus in the Parks towards a dog-friendly area, tile mural & ESL courses

Why Koz Park?

Fifteen years ago, my wife, Heather, and I bought a house one block away from Kosciuszko Park. We discovered Logan Square while attending Redmoon Theater’s All Hallow’s Eve productions in late-90’s and moved into the neighborhood in 2001 as part of a creative group of friends. We always meant to get involved with the park but were pulled in different directions with our children’s schools and other projects.

The park had an amazing neighborhood advocate, Tom Cunningham, who basically served as a one-man advisory council. He pushed for the new playground that was installed ten years ago and the new roof on the field house. When Tom passed, I felt compelled to get involved to help continue his work.

Thirteen years after moving to the neighborhood, my wife and I made a New Year’s Resolution that resulted in the formation of the Kosciuszko Park Advisory Council.

Why do you volunteer?

It’s what I love, my passion. When I come home from work, instead of turning on the t.v., I dig into a project. For example, I helped found the Logan Square Arts Festival in 2009 and am now the executive director. The event takes place June 23-25. Come! We need volunteers. Sign up!

With the park, it’s literally our backyard. Volunteering in my neighborhood, focusing on the micro level, with people who are my neighbors has an immediate, large impact. It’s empowering. We as a community have that power to organize, come together and believe we can make a difference. For me, the Park Advisory Council is all about taking ownership of the park – planting a flag to say we care about this park.

This park is the largest park in Logan Square and some people don’t even know it exists. We want to change that. We want the community to have a sense of ownership. If they see garbage, pick it up. If they see a broken swing set, call the park supervisor to report it.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering?

I do fundraising for WBEZ and the national programs we produce like This American Life. I worked at the Chicago Reader for years also managed the Chicago edition of The Onion. My wife and I met at a political rally at the University of Illinois and have played in several bands together. My wife still plays in a band and during the day she is a chemist.

We have a boy and a girl, ages 13 and 10, who keep us busy. We love the outdoors and getting out to hike and camp whenever possible. And we love to volunteer as a family.

How can people get involved with Kosciuszko Park Advisory Council?

  • Sign up for our email newsletter at kozparkac.org
  • Like us on Facebook @kozparkac
  • Attend one of our monthly Park Advisory Council meetings at 6:30 on the first Thursday of every month
  • Sign up to volunteer for an event taking place this summer or Midnight Circus in the Parks in September