Showing they care: Volunteers spruce up Dover’s Joe B. Parks Community Garden

By LESLIE MODICA
Thursday, May 13, 2010

DOVER — The Joe B. Parks Community Garden has been the recipient of an outpouring of support during the past month.

When news of his death at 94 years old spread, volunteers came out in droves to clean, prune and generally spruce up the riverfront park.

Combined with volunteer help during the semiannual Dover Pride Cleanup Day in April, much of the work that would have normally been done during Wednesday’s Day of Caring had already been completed.

Still, Beth Fisher, a project coordinator and close friend of Parks, had no trouble finding work for the 20 volunteers that showed up prepared to get their hands dirty during the United Way of the Greater Seacoast’s 5th annual Spring Day of Caring.

The new (and ongoing) plan: Operation Creep. Fisher jokingly made up the term to describe how much the park continues to expand beyond the borders originally defined when work began in 2007.

So on Wednesday, the volunteer crew got to work on what Fisher said will be the last extension of the park, to behind the Cocheco Park apartment complex.

Once the new plants are planted, Fisher said the staff at the apartment complex have volunteered to continue maintenance of that section of the park.

In a way, extending the park one last time is a memorial to Parks, who consistently advocated to stretch the park a little bit farther with each new year.

“We could not do this without his vision or without folks who volunteer to work on it,” Fisher said.

Carol Smack, a regular garden “tender” and also a friend of Parks, said she continues to be touched by the volunteer support for the garden.

“It’s just his (Parks’) life, his life’s work,” Smack said of the park.

Other volunteers at the park Wednesday never knew Parks, but still wanted to do what they could to pitch in to maintain the serene space downtown.

“He (Parks) sounded like quite a person and he put a lot of love and caring into this area,” said Elizabeth LeClair, a Milton resident and Master Gardener who took a day off from her job at Frisbie Memorial Hospital to participate in the Day of Caring.

“I’ve always liked downtown Dover and to do this really means a lot,” LeClair said.

The group even got some help from a four-legged volunteer — Baloo, a four-month-old Newfoundland puppy who helped the group dig up a bush that needed to be removed.

“We were trying to pull it up and he was digging elsewhere, so we just had him dig up the bush,” said Lisa Speropolous, Baloo’s owner and a Liberty Mutual employee who volunteered at the garden for the Day of Caring.

“He took care of it, he earned his keep,” she said as Baloo slept soundly in the garden.

About 1,000 volunteers representing 40 business and community groups from around the Seacoast volunteered for 56 nonprofit agencies for the Day of Caring in Dover, Exeter, Greenland, Kingston, Portsmouth, Rochester Seabrook, Strafford and Stratham.

This year’s sponsors were Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Bottomline Technologies, Heinemann Publishing, Lonza Biologics, Newmarket International, NextEra Energy: Seabrook Station and Unitil.

Dover cleanup honors Joe Parks, city’s green spaces

By JASON CLAFFEY
Sunday, April 25, 2010

DOVER — Joe Parks’ legacy lived on Saturday as hundreds of volunteers spruced up the downtown green spaces he spent years preserving.

The 11th annual Dover Pride Cleanup Day was the first not to feature Parks, who died last month at the age of 94.

He was nationally renowned for his rhododendrons, which he planted all over the city — including in the park named in his honor, the Joe B. Parks River Walk Public Gardens near Orchard Street.

The spirit of volunteerism he helped instill in the community — especially its youth — was very much alive Saturday.

Dover High School varsity girls’ soccer team members Casey Murphy, Courtney Williams, and Lauren Morrison were some of the roughly 200 people who participated in the cleanup.

“It’s meaningful,” said Morrison. “It’s sad he’s not here.”

The trio met Parks in the fall of 2009 at the river walk gardens when their team volunteered to clean it up.

They said he was patient teaching them how to care for the plants and appreciative they were volunteering in the first place.

Their coach, Connie Roy, said the team was awestruck seeing Parks — at more than 90 years old — digging up soil and raking leaves.

“That inspired them,” Ray said.

Volunteers on Saturday worked on 13 green spaces, removing branches, painting benches and maintaining plants.

The Kiwanis Club provided a pancake breakfast, Starbucks and Poland Spring donated refreshments, and Kendall Pond Pizza chipped in with lunch. Dover Main Street organized the event.

Local Girls Scouts got in on the act as well.

Lisa Glover’s young troop members from Dover helped out for their community service badge.

“It feels awesome!” said 9-year-old Liberty Streeter, who was busy spreading mulch at Henry Law Park.

Glover said it was a good experience for the girls.

“When they walk by the park, they can say, ‘I’m the one who did that. I’m the one who cleaned it up,'” she said.

It’s all part of a promise to honor Parks’ legacy, according to organizer Britt Ulinski Schuman.

“We’ll keep (the green spaces) looking good,” she said.

Joe B Parks Obituary

Riverwalk004

DOVER — Inventor, sculptor, horticulturalist, computer pioneer, soldier, legislator, train buff, consultant, teacher, preacher’s kid, philanthropist, entrepreneur, woodworker, bibliophile, real estate investor, Arctic traveler, class president, husband, father, and Pop-pop are only some of the titles which could be used for Joe B. Parks. Interested in almost anything and an expert in many things, he lived an amazingly full and happy life. He died Wednesday at the age of 94.

A steward of the environment, he promoted conservation, was a tree farmer, and received an award from the Sierra Club for distinguished environmental service as a legislator. Afflicted early with a disease called “gardening,” he spent years working with plants, studying, propagating, and hybridizing them.

At the age of 90, 10 years after receiving a cancer diagnosis, he traveled to the Arctic to investigate heat capture in high-Arctic flowering plants. He developed and registered more than 20 new azaleas and rhododendrons. He loved nothing more than sharing his gardens and his knowledge with other plant-lovers, teaching gardening courses for the Dover Adult Learning Center, designing and installing a Japanese garden with students from Dover High, writing a gardening column for Foster’s Daily Democrat, conducting plant-by-plant tours of his gardens, and serving as auctioneer at the annual Durham Garden Club plant sale.

He served as President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society and was a founding member of the Maine Coastal Botanical Garden. He was honored by the City of Dover in 2008 with the dedication of the Joe B. Parks Riverwalk Garden and by the American Rhododendron Society in 2005 with the Silver Medal. Many of his rhododendrons will be maintained at the University of Southern Maine Arboretum in Gorham, Maine.

A talented artist and creative person in many other areas, he sculpted in clay, bronze, and granite, carved and printed multicolor woodblocks, and used his woodworking skills to build everything from tiny jewel boxes to intricate dollhouses to custom furniture. He was always inventing minor domestic improvements, including a hands-free door opener, a bird feeder squirrel deterrent, and a “better mouse trap” that he tried to patent. He was a bibliophile who collected and preserved all kinds of books, treasured his status as a proprietor of the Portsmouth Athenaeum, and spent the last several years finalizing his memoirs for publication.

Joe was born in McAlester, Okla., on Dec. 17, 1915, son of the Rev. James A.T. and Florence Youngblood Parks and brother of Mary Parks White. He was extremely proud of his Cherokee grandparents who had come to Indian Territory over the Trail of Tears. He graduated from Oklahoma A. & M. College (now Oklahoma State University) in 1939 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration.

While at A&M he began his lifelong work with computing machines. Joe moved to Washington, D.C., after his graduation and soon met his future wife, Florence Evans, whom he married in 1941. They were happily married for 58 years until her death in 1999.

Recruited by IBM as part of the Lend-Lease war effort, Joe received a commission from the Army shortly after Pearl Harbor. He served in the medical corps in England and France as a supply officer and was one of only a handful of headquarters soldiers to be awarded the Bronze Star. After the war, Joe began a career in public service, beginning with the Veterans’ Administration and culminating in his retirement as a Deputy Director at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. In addition to his government work, he was a managing director for RCA and a marketing director at Booz Allen Hamilton.

After his retirement, Joe and Florence moved to Dover, N.H. to be near their daughter, Kathryn and her family. Joe and Florence believed that service to one’s community was a basic responsibility and were engaged in their communities throughout their lives.

In Dover, Joe immediately became an active member of the First Parish Church of Dover, serving as both a deacon and a warden, offered his services to the city of Dover as a computer consultant, became active in the Republican Party, serving as Chairperson of the Strafford County Republicans, and was a corporator of Wentworth-Douglass Hospital.

In 1984, he first ran for a seat in the New Hampshire legislature, conducting a door-to-door campaign from his bicycle, and ultimately served four terms. He was named a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow in 1998 in recognition of his service to his community.

Joe leaves his daughter, Anne Parks-Goss and her husband, Vladimir, of Hillsborough, N. C., granddaughter, Christine Goss of Lewisburg, W.Va.; his daughter, Kathryn Forbes of Dover, granddaughter, Moira Forbes and her husband, Jared Hughes of Arlington, Va., grandson, Kenneth Forbes and his wife, Connie, of Stowe, Vt., granddaughter, Megan Forbes and her husband, Richard Brown of Brooklyn, N.Y., four great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and his beloved poodle, Buzz.

A celebration of his life will be held at the First Parish Church, Congregational, Dover, N.H. on Saturday, April 10, at 10 a.m. Calling hours will be Friday, April 9, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Wiggin Purdy Funeral Home in Dover. Family flowers only.

Memorial donations may be made to the Dover Adult Learning Center of Strafford County, or to the City of Dover Joe B. Parks Riverwalk Garden.

Visit www.fosters.com/obits the online guest book.
Published in Fosters from April 2 to April 4, 2010

Noted for his rhododendrons, volunteerism, Dover’s Joe Parks dies at 94

By LESLIE MODICA
Friday, April 2, 2010

DOVER — Joe Parks once said that he lived by the philosophy of his father, a minister.

“The world doesn’t owe you anything, you owe it,” Parks said.

Even in his last days, Parks was living that philosophy, even traveling by ambulance just to meet with representatives from the University of Southern Maine Arboretum to finalize plans to donate some of his famous rhododendrons.

“Both he and my mother felt very, very strongly that we weren’t just put here to sit around and do nothing,” said Kathryn Forbes, Parks’ daughter. “All of us were meant to make this a better place for everyone, not just ourselves.”

Parks died Wednesday night at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital at the age of 94.

It seems nearly all the major landmarks in the city have been touched by Parks — Henry Law Park, Garrison Hill, the Woodman Institute and several others all appear the way they do today because Joe Parks had something to do with it.

And most recently — in 2007 — Parks took the lead in a beautification project that transformed a long-neglected section of the downtown riverfront into a community garden dedicated in his honor.

He was more than just the namesake for the Joe B. Parks Riverwalk and Gardens, something that doesn’t surprise anybody that knew him.

“The idea was to bring a few rhododendrons onto the riverwalk,” said Beth Fischer, who coordinated the project for Dover Main Street. “It was nothing like it turned into.”

It started with Parks agreeing to transfer a variety of plants from his own backyard gardens. Then Parks agreed to help design the riverwalk. Soon, he was at the garden every weekend, digging holes, spreading mulch and instructing volunteers about how to plant and care for his prized plants.

“I would mention to people ‘If you see an older guy around with light hair and two dogs, that’s just Joe.’,” Fischer said.

The Joe B. Parks garden is easy to point to as Parks’ legacy in the city, and it is. But Fischer said his legacy created by the park is much more than a name, or a plant or a bench that wasn’t there before.

For nearly two years, Parks personally worked with Heather Fabbri’s horticulture class at Dover High School’s Career Technical Center as they designed and planted a Japanese garden on the riverwalk. First he judged several models presented by students. And when the first shovels hit the ground, Parks was there — with a car full of doughnuts for the students — to guide the class through the process.

“He understood some of the kids were not ones that were going to go on to be Rhodes Scholars, but there were things they could accomplish,” Fischer said.

It was that extra effort, to use his skills to shape the next generation, that Mayor Scott Myers said he always admired most about Parks.

“That was the greatest gift he gave to the city,” Myers said.

Since moving to New Hampshire in the early 1970s, Parks became known for his ability to hybridize warm weather and fragile plants, notably rhododendrons, to both sustain the New England environment and resist insects. He served as president of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Rhododendron Society from 1994 to 1996 and received the silver medal award from the organization in 2006. Parks was also asked to register his garden with the Smithsonian Institution.

Although he is well known for his work in horticulture, Parks never took a single course in the subject and has worked most of his life in business and real estate, managing property and restoring houses around Dover. But the hobby was a part of his life since he was a child, drawing inspiration from a family farm in Oklahoma.

Parks began hybridizing plants while living in Virginia during the middle of the century, but his work picked up pace after moving to Dover. He began work on his garden, nestled among what was then dense forest, before construction on his Long Hill Road home was completed. The well-planned garden since expanded to a series of small gardens connected by a winding pathway.

That garden and the joining woods is where Moira Forbes, Parks’ granddaughter, spent much of her childhood and inspired her so much she wrote a story as a first-grader called “My Granddad’s Woods.”

“We were always doing things over there,” the now 36-year-old Forbes said. “He was always saying ‘Let’s go to the greenhouse, let’s plant something, let’s make something out of wood, let’s go catch a snake.’ I didn’t’ realize until I was older that most people’s grandparents weren’t as active. That always seemed normal to us that people’s grandparents ran around and did things every day.”

Parks was always busy, and it wasn’t just limited to gardening, Kathryn Forbes said. He spent much of his career working in data management and computing after attending what is now Oklahoma State University when researchers at that school development a computerized registration system using punch cards — in the 1930s.

He later went on to sell computers for RCA for several years.

“He’s been a computer user for 70 years or something,” Forbes said. “There couldn’t be many people like that around.”

Most recently, Parks discovered that he could use magnets to help ease some of his arthritis pain and could often be seen going about his day with bandage covered magnets attached all around his body. But Parks wasn’t content with just accepting that it helped. Instead, he began pouring over medical research about the theory and even said he wanted to find a way to start a trial to scientifically test his theory.

“Everything that came along interested him,” Forbes said.

And he wanted to explore it all, she said.

“He didn’t plan to grow old,” Forbes said.

The thing about Parks’ wide array of interests is that it allowed him to be something different to everybody he met — horticulturist, volunteer, teacher, writer, sculptor, Army major, state legislator, entrepreneur.

“He was a lot of things to a lot of people,” Forbes said. “The most important thing to me was he was my dad.”

Japanese area added to Joe B. Parks River Walk Public Gardens

By LESLIE MODICA
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

DOVER — The Joe B. Parks River Walk Public Gardens now has an international flair following the introduction of a Japanese garden by a group of Dover High School horticulture students.

As the newly planted garden drank up the steady rain Tuesday, students and staff stood around their new creation for the official dedication of the Japanese garden to the “staff and students of the Agriculture and Life Sciences classes of Dover High School and the Regional Career Technical Center.”

Once a tabletop model inside Room 128 of the Career Technical Center, the plans from about a dozen students in Heather Fabbri’s horticulture class have now sprung to life on a small triangular plot near the Cocheco River.

Although Joe Parks, who has worked with the students throughout the process, was not able to attend the dedication, his thoughts were still apparent throughout the ceremony.

“This truly was something that meant so much to him,” said a teary-eyed Beth Fischer, who worked with Parks to create the garden. “He so believes in youth and what kids can do.”

Although the project is still in progress, it is already a far cry from the 43 feet by 43 feet and 30-foot piece of land that was previously just mulch. When it’s finished, the triangular garden will be bordered by vegetation and rocks, with steppingstones, stonewalls and earthy pathways.

Since April 3, students have worked on the garden every Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and had to make up missed class time.

“This wasn’t just a get-out-of-school-free card,” said Kelsey Neely, a student in the class.

Instead, she said, students were able to see a direct impact of building the garden as residents walked by with their pets and commented on the beauty of the garden.

“(Before) it looked liked a left-out triangle in the middle of Dover,” Neely said. “Now it looks like this.”

And Career Technical Center Director Jim Amara said students should continue that same sense of pride in the garden even after the class ends.

“As this garden grows older and you grow older, come by and watch it,” Amara said. “It’s your garden, and I think that’s kind of special.”

Dover students team up with city’s green thumb to grow Japanese garden

By ADAM D. KRAUSS
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

DOVER — Today, it’s a model of the Japanese garden sitting on a table inside Room 128 of the Regional Career Technical Center at Dover High School.

Soon it will become a riverside retreat, its triangular design bordered by vegetation and rocks, with steppingstones, stonewalls and earthy pathways inviting people strolling through downtown to take a break.

Starting April 3, a dozen or more students from Heather Fabbri’s horticulture classes will team with the city’s resident plant expert, Joe Parks, to develop the garden between Orchard and Chestnut streets, near the public gardens named after him.

Their work will unfold Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., until May, and students will have to make up missed class time, Fabbri said.

“I wanted to be involved because I love planting anyway,” said freshman Amy Labelle, “and I’ve always had good luck growing things.”

Parks said he hopes the garden, which measures 43 feet by 43 feet and 30 feet and has broad community support, will ignite passion for such beautification efforts.

Labelle said it likely will. “I think a lot of people are unaware how much we can transform a place,” she said. “You can take just a dirt path and make it into something.”

The garden’s roots stretch back to the school’s first semester, when students created models for Parks to judge. He used the top three to build a compilation, but the task ahead rests largely with students.

“They will actually be involved in … planting the plants and in the years to come they will be maintaining it, pruning the plants and moving things if necessary,” Fabbri said. “The things they will be doing in the field are not things they will get to do in the greenhouse.”

Students are set to raise funds for one third of the roughly $3,000 project, with a private donor and Dover Main Street and the Dover Rotary Club picking up the rest, Fabbri said.

Community help is also welcomed, said Fabbri, who can be reached at 516-6978.

Fragrant dream unfolds: Joe Parks garden along riverwalk is dedicated

By LESLIE MODICA
Thursday, June 19, 2008

DOVER — Joe Parks had a lifelong dream blossom Wednesday with the completion of the Joe B. Parks Riverwalk Public Gardens.

Friends, family, city officials and admirers gathered along the banks of the Cocheco River for the official dedication ceremony of the gardens, which are the result of nearly a year of work and hundreds of volunteers.

“It (the park) says Joe Parks, but it really is the community of Dover,” Parks said. “This is a unique project in New England, or at least New Hampshire. Find me a project like this in which volunteers have done all the work.”

Parks added that although he supported the project, Beth Fischer, the volunteer coordinator for the project, was the person to organize and motivate the volunteer effort.

“They (Dover Main Street) found somebody else to run it who has run everybody else ragged,” Parks joked. “A lot of work was done here in self-defense.”

The project began as an effort between Dover Main Street and the Dover Rotary Club last fall, and has since involved at least 200 volunteers and help from the Ageless Dreamer Foundation.

In addition to providing the inspiration for the park with his own garden, Parks has donated numerous plants, designed the garden and put in several hours of labor to help complete the finished project.

Parks has hybridized more than 22 types of rhododendrons and was asked by the Smithsonian to register his six-acre garden, which he has made available to the public in Dover. He is also formerly the president of the Massachusetts Rhododendron Society.

As part of the larger project, Local Eagle Scout Steven Jencso has also worked with Connie Roy, of Reverie Design, and a group of Boy Scouts to redo the mural under the Chestnut Street bridge.

“These are some of the kinds of events that make me proud to be a part of this city,” Mayor Scott Myers said during the dedication. “People sometimes say when government gets of out of the way, the real work gets done… We (City Council) got out of the way and let the average folks take over and the results are here.”

Although it took countless volunteer hours to make the park work, Laurie Widmark, the founder of the Ageless Dreamer Foundation, said it was Parks’ initial dream that made the park possible.

Joe Parks stands in the Joe B. Parks Community Garden following a dedication ceremony on Wednesday.

“Thank you for having the courage to dream out loud and share your dream with us,” Widmark said.

Parks also got a surprise from Laura Smith, of Rivers Photography, who presented him with a framed photograph of the gardens.

Jewelry Creations will also donate 10 percent of any sale of its Garden Collection toward a trust created to help fund the maintenance of the park.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the trust can make donations to the Joe B. Parks Riverwalk Public Garden Trust, C/O the Finance Department, City of Dover.

Anybody also wishing to help with the future maintenance of the parks, or “Adopt-A-Spot” can contact Dover Main Street.

Dedication of Joe Parks Community Garden today in Dover

By LESLIE MODICA
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

DOVER — The Joe Parks Community Garden will have its official debut today during a dedication ceremony to celebrate the more than 200 people who have contributed to the park.

The celebration will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the public garden, at 400 Central Ave., and will feature a series of speakers, include a few words by the park’s namesake and workhorse, Joe Parks.

In addition to providing the inspiration for the park with his own garden, Parks has donated numerous plants, designed the garden and put in several hours of labor to help complete the finished project.

Mayor Scott Myers, Ageless Dreamer Foundation Executive Director Laurie Widmark and representatives from the Dover Rotary Club and Dover Main Street will also speak at the dedication ceremony.

There will also be music and a reception following the ceremony.

“It’s been fun. It has really been great,” Beth Fischer, the projects volunteer coordinator, said. “Joe (Parks) wanted to give something to the community and it really is a beautiful garden.”

The garden is part of a larger project to beautify the riverfront and extends along the Cocheco River from the Central Avenue bridge to the Chestnut Street bridge.

In addition to hours of volunteer time, Parks donated several of his world-famous hybrid rhododendrons. several other plants and three sculptures from his garden.

Parks has hybridized more than 22 types of rhododendrons and was asked by the Smithsonian to register his six-acre garden, which he has made available to the public in Dover. He is also formerly the president of the Massachusetts Rhododendron Society.

Local Eagle Scout Steven Jencso has also worked with Connie Roy, of Reverie Design, and a group of Boy Scouts to redo the mural under the Chestnut Street bridge. Although the park has been mostly completed, the project is still looking for some volunteers for the work that has to be done to keep the gardens in shape.

“We are looking for additional folks who want to get involved to help us maintain the beautiful gardens,” Fischer said.

Project coordinators have also set up a trust through the city for donations to help maintain the garden.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the trust can make donations to the Joe B. Parks Riverwalk Public Garden Trust, C/O the Finance Department, City of Dover.

Dover blooms in local flower beds

By LESLIE MODICA
Wednesday, April 23, 2008

DOVER — The warming weather means volunteers for the Joe Parks Community Garden will be back in full force, prepping and planting in flower beds.

Tuesday marks the first workday following the snowy winter, with a “potting party” scheduled to be held at Joe Parks’ house from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Although the work is picking up exactly where it left off, there is one major change the project, said Beth Fischer, who has been organizing the project.

The project, which was organized and run by Dover Main Street last year, is now being headed-up by the Ageless Dreamer Foundation following Dover Main Street’s recent decision to reorganize without an executive director and move out of its office.

Fischer said several of the volunteers are still coming from Dover Main Street, but the Ageless Dreamer Foundation has taken the project on as a special initiative.

Following Tuesday’s potting party, Fischer said work on the garden will continue every Saturday beginning April 26.

“Things are cracking in,” Fischer said. “We’ve got a lot of good volunteers but we could use some additional contributions.”

She said the project is specifically seeking somebody who will donate temporary use of a backhoe or tractor to haul heavy materials on Saturday mornings.

The project is also seeking volunteers for a range of purposes, including working in the garden, making food for the workers, helping with publicity or helping with the dedication ceremony, which will be held on June 18, Fischer said.

Anybody wishing to help can contact the Ageless Dreamer Foundation at (603) 988-3563 or email at bethfischeragelessdreamer.org.

Seacoast gets busy helping on Day of Caring

By LESLIE MODICA
Thursday, May 15, 2008

DOVER — Bright yellow T-shirts dotted Dover like dandelions as dozens of volunteers donning the spring “Day of Caring” shirts painted, planted and spread mulch to help out local non-profits.

Volunteers from various local businesses left their keyboards and phones behind Wednesday to take part in the United Way’s 3rd annual Day of Caring.

Julie Cook, who works for Liberty Mutual, said she was happy to leave her desk behind on the sunny day to help the Cocheco Valley Humane Society with some landscaping.

“I actually enjoy doing this kind of thing,” Cook said. “I don’t ever get to do it because I have to sit at a desk all day.”

Cook was just one of more than 800 volunteers to sign up for various projects around the Seacoast, marking the second year in a row that attendance has grown by 100 volunteers.

In Dover, volunteers were sent to work at several different locations, including the Joe Parks Community Garden, HUB Family Resources, the Cocheco Valley Humane Society and Our House for Girls.

A full day’s work by the numerous volunteers around the Seacoast, including more than 400 from Liberty Mutual, amounted to more than $132,600 in volunteer time for local nonprofits, Sue Suter, executive director of the United Way of the Greater Seacoast, said in an official release.

Lisa Mastro, who also works at Liberty Mutual, said the chance to work outside on a nice day was only complimented by knowing her work was helping a good cause.

“These nonprofit places need all the help they can get,” Mastro said.

For many of the volunteers, the Day of Caring has become a regular event.

“This is my third year,” Lisa Couture, who works at Liberty Mutual, said as she took a break from spreading compost near the McConnell Center. “I think it’s a good service to the community, and I like being outside.”

In total, the event coordinated work at 43 nonprofits around the Seacoast, including Portsmouth, Exeter, Greenland, Kingston, Rochester, Seabrook, Strafford and Stratham.