Melissa Cooper joined the Shared Paths stewards the way many of our volunteers do . . . at the invitation and urging of Graham Hill.   Melissa has been building a business and while immersed in the work  . . . examining her relationship to the planet and the community and was happy to find a new volunteer task that allowed her to give back.

Melissa and her business partner Liz are in the process of expanding and launching a holistic wellness company that produces high-grade plant-based therapies. Melissa has always been in the business of helping people be well – through yoga instruction, as a wellness coach and in her work with engaging  recovering addicts in equine therapy.  She is now focused on getting Onyx Healing Arts – and her hemp and CBD oil into expanded markets and the work to build the messaging has raised a heart-felt wondering about how else she can give back: to the planet, to the community and to protect wildlife.

In her community exploratory time, she discovered the Boulder’s Shared Paths as a place to wander and wonder . . . and to look at the impacts of use evidenced by both litter and wildlife displacement. As a person who feels she does a pretty good job, generally – in caring for how she managed her personal impact, Melissa realized that there was more to discover about how people sharing community spaces manage theirs. So Melissa and her friend Celia have been walking and riding the path on Stewardship routes to be a friendly presence and to help pick up litter.

Melissa’s effort to build her business has made her more focused on “personal awareness”: how do I know my impact?  She explains, “I think I am a pretty conscious person. This volunteer role rocked my awareness.  Being physically on the path and paying attention to the cleanliness and the animals . . . paying attention to the different users and the setting, allows me to be connected to the paths with a purpose.”

Melissa highly recommends that others consider becoming a Shared Paths Steward to both give back and connect to the community in this special natural setting.  “It is such a win-win. I can better my health as well as health of the environment,” she explained.  “Also, I want to be a part of an organization and work with people who are joyous, who have a positive vision – and who also want to give back.  I love that Graham encourages us all to just go do a shift when you can . . . . to do whatever you can do. This opportunity has allowed me to feel valued and see how the paths affect us as a community.”

Melissa also noted that it isn’t always easy to be the friendly connector on the paths that she wants to be.  “It’s hard . . . there are lots of users who are there for different reasons and some who may not want to be approached.  But the more we say hi to one another and the more people see the Stewards cleaning up and being care-takers – the better the program is – and nature wins too,”

I was wondering as I worked – how is litter affecting the trees, the creeks, the wildlife?  I am sometimes overwhelmed by how much there is to do in my life . . . to make things better.  Giving this hour to the paths every now and again – allows me to see it as an ongoing gift that I may not finish, but I can always give.”