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Westmorelander helps plant trees in Outer Southeast

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Volunteer Savannah Weber-Griggs works with Westmorelander and Friends of Trees Crew Leader Jeff Kisseloff, to ease a tree into its new home.With the goal of planting 500 trees, the Friends of Trees volunteers didn’t seem to mind that the sky was dark with thick rain clouds on the morning of January 26, when they headed to Gethsemane Lutheran Church at 11560 S.E. Market Street.

Hot coffee and snacks warmed up volunteers, as Friends of Trees Neighborhood Trees Specialist and ISA Certified Arborist Andrew Land helped crew leaders gather bands of helpers, before heading out into the in the outer East Portland neighborhood s of Mill Park and Hazelwood.

Crew Leader Jeff Kisseloff lives in Westmoreland – and that morning, two blocks west of the staging area, he and a group of volunteers were already at work, planting trees.

“A couple of years ago, we got a knock on the door at our Westmoreland home,” Kisseloff told THE BEE. “Someone – it turns out they were with Friends of Trees – asked if we wanted a tree. When I agreed we did, they told us that we could help plant it.”

As it turns out, Kisseloff discovered that he enjoys it. “I love to plant trees; I’ve planted trees for years. So, I went out and planted trees on that horrible day – it was like this one! – and got muddy and disgusting, I ‘had a ball’. I said to myself, ‘I have to do more of this’.”

It wasn’t long, he said, before he became certified as a Friends of Trees Crew Leader.

“I’m here today because, like I said, I love planting trees. So do the people who come out to volunteer with us. They come out and we all have fun, regardless of the weather. Most of us think it’s great fun to ‘play in the mud’.”

And, Kisseloff pointed out, “Trees beautify our neighborhoods, cool the area during the summer, and help collect rainwater in the winter. Together, we’re all doing something good for the city.”

Having moved here to Westmoreland from New York, Kisseloff remarked, “When we moved here two years ago, we learned what a great city this is for volunteering. It’s easy to help make a great city when everybody lends a hand.”