The Corner Forum
Sunday, Oct. 19, 2003
Issue #52

She Brightens the World

Photo and Story by Thomas J. Woody, 1338 Emerald St. NE

On Columbus Day Sunday, I noticed a woman with hedge clippers in the alley located behind my home, between Emerald and F Street. I first thought she was only walking through and had just stopped to chop a hedge or two on her journey. I found it peculiar but was in a hurry to make an appointment. Hours later, I saw the shrub clippings covering the entire width of the alley. The shrubs were trimmed very nicely, in ways I have not seen in years.

While taking the trash out the next day, the woman mysteriously appeared again. This time, I saw trash and vegetation about in neat piles. I decided to inquire as to who she may be. I found out that she was on a mission to clean the entire alley, that her name is Pamela Volkonsky, and that she lives on the 500 block of 14th Street.

I'd like to add that the alley passage that she was cleaning was not hers. She mentioned that she often cleans her own alley and that a few friends of hers on Emerald alluded to a few problems concerning their alley. So she decided to tackle it. And tackle it is what she did.

Ms. Volkonsky has an irrepressible spirit of enthusiasm that brightens the world. She trimmed bushes and shrubs, pulled weeds and cut down a sufficient amount of wild trees. She even bagged it all to be hauled away during trash pick-up.

I usually maintain my portion of the alley, which spans a few houses on either side of me, so I do know how much work this is. So out of the kindness of her "big ol' heart," Ms. Volkonsky cleaned the entire alley passage from 13th Street to 14th Street. She also cleaned up tree branches and limbs after Hurricane Isabel a few weeks earlier and mentioned that she spent over $40 on trash bags. She welcomes donations of your time and trash bags to help in her future endeavors. I find her efforts remarkable, heroic and legendary. So the next time you notice an unfamiliar face cleaning sidewalks and alleys, or notice how clean and manicured the Emerald and F Street alley is, give a big "shout out" to Ms. Volkonsky. §