May 2018 Park Angels of the Month: Michael and Jenny K. Messner
“By the time we moved to Charleston in January 2012, we had already embarked on a mission to improve urban green spaces, through our Speedwell Foundation,” says Jenny K. Messner, co-founder and trustee of The Speedwell Foundation.
Jenny along with her husband Michael Messner, and their daughter Rebecca produced, the documentary Olmsted and America’s Urban Parks, which aired on American Public Television stations nationwide on Earth Day in April 2011.
Soon after moving their home in New Jersey to the Lowcountry, Jenny became fond of Charleston’s parks, including Hampton Park. “My dog and I are frequent visitors and something new is blooming every time we are there,” Jenny explained. “We have some exciting plans to make the park more attractive to Charlestonians. It is way underutilized…a hidden gem.”
Because of her interest in improving public spaces, Jenny would later join the Charleston Parks Conservancy Board of Directors. “I loved the opportunity to become acquainted with my new hometown on a park-by-park basis by joining the board,” said Jenny.
Through their Speedwell Foundation, Jenny and Mike established a matching donation challenge for the Charleston Parks Conservancy. Now through June 1st, every donation to the Conservancy, up to $50,000, will be matched dollar-for-dollar by The Speedwell Foundation.
“I like to think we lead by example!” Jenny explained. “We hope our friends and neighbors will be inspired to rise to the occasion and support the Conservancy’s efforts.”
Jenny has exemplified the Conservancy mission of connecting the people of Charleston to their parks, “Accompanying Colonial Lake through its transformation and renovation has been a heartfelt effort for me, as it’s right in our neighborhood. I dug some holes and planted some plants, then watched the evolution of our dream as our beautiful project bore the damage from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.”
Jenny continued, “Our Conservancy weathered these trying times so admirably, rolling up their sleeves and cleaning up and starting over. Our volunteers are indeed Angels! I admire the staff and volunteers for their steadfast optimism through these major challenges.”
Today Jenny and her husband Michael enjoy life as active philanthropists in Charleston, as well as spending time with their three children and four grandchildren and at their family farm in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Join the Speedwell Challenge and double your donation to the Charleston Parks Conservancy!