According to Kevin Gallineau, Vice President of the Friends of Allegany State Park, what makes Allegany special is its people. Kevin’s leadership and dedication to enhancing the park certainly prove that theory.
“I can speak to strangers I meet at the park and share my experiences and listen to theirs,” says Kevin. “By the end of the conversation we are Allegany friends. I have met up to five generations of campers at the park who have carried on the wonderful tradition of camping there.”
In November 2012, several friends that had met at Allegany State Park decided to help the park out by cleaning things up and painting cabins. Kevin, a Certified Auto Mechanic, was one of those friends.
“We started expanding with our Facebook page and decided it was time to become an official 501(c)(3) organization,” Kevin recalls. “We formed a board of directors and took the necessary steps to make it official.”
Since then, Kevin and the other Friends volunteers have logged hundreds of hours and completed dozens of projects to support the park.
“As Allegany is the largest state park in New York State,” Kevin notes, “the park needs volunteers to help with its immense size. I am happy to do my part and be a part of something very substantial.”
In 2014, the Friends of Allegany were awarded a Growing the Grassroots grant from PTNY to fund the development of a new website, brochures, banners, bumper stickers, and business cards. The grant helped create an awareness of the organization and membership has grown, including six paid lifetime members. With the website and collateral materials now in hand, the Friends hope to see a large amount of growth this summer season and especially to create an interest in individuals to carry on in their footsteps.
“This grant money has helped us considerably in spreading the good works of our cause, and will help in our future growth as well!” says Kevin.
This year marked the first time the Friends were involved in organizing the I Love My Park Day event at Allegany, and the Friends will be assuming responsibility for organizing the entire event in 2016.
Though the group of volunteers has painted dozens of cabins and other structures, the Friends’ current project, the revitalization of six nearly condemned cabins on McIntosh Trail, has been their greatest effort thus far.
“We hope to have all six cabins back into the rental pool, the first three by mid-August and the next three by September,” says Kevin. “This will be a great affordable option to the good people who enjoy our park!”
Kevin, a Certified Auto Mechanic, also enjoys spending time with his family and friends, and often helps people out with car problems when he’s not busy leading a project at the park.
“Mr. Gallineau is incredibly passionate about Allegany State Park,” says Jay Bailey,General Park Manager and Director of the Allegany State Park Region. “His energy and dedication have helped cement the Friends of Allegany State Park not only as an organization, but also as a valued partner. Through his kind manner and volunteer spirit Kevin has fostered a meaningful partnership with Parks, leading to the completion of projects that have improved the quality of the park experience for all visitors.”
The next big project for the Friends is the cleanup and revitalization of the historic Red House Saw Mill. This once steam-driven mill is a real gem in the park and is one of only a handful in New York State. The Friends hope to have the mill ready for next summer camping season tours.