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Written by Lon Snowden
Volunteering benefits our neighbors and the broader community. On a personal level it can be intellectually stimulating and lead to new learning, while expanding our social network through collaboration with fellow volunteers. A volunteer’s contribution of time and effort is genuinely appreciated, young or old, and the reward of sincere gratitude typically improves both our physical and emotional wellness. That characterizes my volunteer experience with the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (DLNHC).
I began biking on a beautiful trail in Glen Onoko, near Jim Thorpe, soon after moving to Pennsylvania in 2006. I immediately loved the Carbon County trail that parallels the Lehigh River towards White Haven. My rides and walks expanded to other trails near New Hope and along the Delaware River in Northampton and Bucks counties, then farther north near Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County. I soon realized that each trail was a section of the over 165-mile D&L Trail, which exists due to the continuous effort of the DLNHC staff, their close partners, and dedicated volunteers.
It became clear that the DLNHC was far more than “just” a 165-mile trail. The DLNHC oversees a diverse portfolio of programs, projects, and initiatives.
U.S. Congressional legislation established the Corridor in 1988, creating an impressive five-county “footprint.” The Corridor’s total area is 2,640 sq. miles with a population of more than 1.7 million residents. It includes over 100 municipalities, with the 165-mile trail connecting a multitude of designated “Trail Towns,” Trail Friendly Businesses, and popular scenic attractions and/or activities. In comparison, the state of Rhode Island is smaller at 1,500 sq. miles and a population of 1.1 million. Delaware is also slightly smaller in both area and population.
I first officially volunteered with the NCM in 2009. After some time, I became a member of the NCM and DLNHC boards in 2011 and 2013, respectively, when the two were still separate organizations. This continued after the DLNHC and NCM merger in 2017. I did not seek board appointments; they seemingly occurred as part of the natural progression of being a dedicated volunteer.
My DLNHC journey began with just a willingness to donate my time. The years that followed included membership on multiple DLNHC committees, selection as a committee chairperson, election as a board officer and Board Vice Chair, and eventually becoming the Board Chairperson.
Volunteering with DLNHC has included positive experiences with too many wonderful people to name including municipal, state, federal, and private partners. We successfully tackled dozens of memorable projects and challenges as a team, all satisfying accomplishments with much quality work and genuine laughter in the process. Those fond memories and the many friendships gained are my priceless reward(s) for volunteering.
I’m no longer a board member, but continue to be an enthusiastic and dedicated DLNHC volunteer.
To anyone interested in becoming a DLNHC volunteer, or for current volunteers seeking expanded opportunities, please visit this page for more information.