January Park Angels of the Month: Stephanie Coffin and Fran Hummel
If you’ve been to the Teddy Bear Picnic in Hampton Park, you’ve seen Fran Hummel (pictured left) and Stephanie Coffin (pictured right). They may have been at the check-in table, coordinating volunteers, making pine cone bird feeders or leading the teddy bear parade at the end of the picnic.
These two Park Angel volunteers have long been the heart and soul of the Teddy Bear Picnic. Now in its eighth year, the picnic is set for Sunday, March 5 at Hampton Park. As co-chairs of the event, both have watched the picnic develop into one of the area’s must-do family events.
“I love the way the Teddy Bear Picnic has grown through the years and yet we have stayed with the same principle of simple, good fun for the children and their families,” Fran said. “I absolutely love seeing the families on their blankets, enjoying the entertainment or at the activity tents having such a great time outside in the park.”
Fran, a retired elementary and junior high school art teacher, has been volunteering with the Conservancy for several years. A Lead Park Angel, she’s never afraid to get her hands dirty working in Charleston’s parks, especially Magnolia Community Garden where you can find her watering the garden beds or harvesting vegetables.
Stephanie is the owner/operator of Bellies Babies and Beyond, an online resource for parents, so it made perfect sense for her to get involved with the family-focused Teddy Bear Picnic. In 2013, Stephanie volunteered with the picnic planning committee, eventually becoming co-chair with Fran and a Lead Park Angel with the Conservancy.
After seeing a video of a previous Teddy Bear Picnic, Stephanie said she knew she “had to be a part of this wonderful organization.”
New to the picnic this year is a teddy bear fashion show plus the unveiling of a new children’s book written by a group of Park Angels. In “Here, There and Everywhere with Parker Bear,” Parker heads out on a Charleston parks adventure, visiting 10 city parks before meeting his friends at Hampton Park for the annual Teddy Bear Picnic.
Fran said she’s thrilled for people to see the book and for children to join in readings with Parker. “I hope everyone loves the book and Parker Bear as much as we have enjoyed watching it come together,” she said.
For these Park Angels, the Teddy Bear Picnic has become a project they truly love. Fran said it’s the best children’s event she’s ever attended, which is why people come back year after year.
“Fun activities, entertainment, food and even a doctor to make your teddy bear well – it doesn’t get much better than that,” Fran said.