By Jennifer Voss
Chair, Precinct 339
I met Phyllis Fitzgerald-Morris nine years ago at her home while attending my first neighborhood association meeting she hosted with her husband, Chris, who was on the board. Phyllis was the type of woman who makes an immediate impression on you. She was friendly, gracious, kind, full of energy, witty, happy, and engaged. Over the years, she and I became closer friends who could always share a laugh and like-minded thoughts.
In 2017, when the 2018 mid-terms were upon us and Blue Action Dems were starting up, Phyllis was ready and rearing to go, attending meetings and hosting block walking parties as early as the primaries. We were in frequent communication about our drive to make a change in SW Austin and Texas.
In March of 2018, I learned that Phyllis had been diagnosed with late stage cancer and I was devastated. She obviously had to pull back from her volunteering to pursue treatment. But…get this…Phyllis re-emerged several months later and was dropping lit on doors and filling out postcards. She did this even while getting chemotherapy treatments and battling cancer. She kept her spunk and passion for seeing a blue wave take hold in November 2018. I was amazed by Phyllis’ tenacity and strength; she kept a positive outlook every time we communicated. As time passed, she became quite ill but she stayed tough and even lamented that she didn’t have the energy to do more volunteering. I thought to myself that if we had more people in this world like Phyllis, what a world it would be. Here she was fighting for her life, but she didn’t give up fighting for what was right. I will always be in awe of Phyllis.
Phyllis passed away on Sunday, April 14, 2019. I haven’t cried that hard in a long time. A friend shared a sentiment with me when I told her about Phyllis’ passing. She said, “Hopefully the changes we make outlive us all, but it is devastating to lose someone along the way.”
Let’s honor Phyllis’ legacy and keep pushing to make a difference even when challenged. Let’s encourage our friends and family to find time to volunteer despite obstacles. Phyllis would be so proud.
Phyllis and Chris
Park Day with Texas Conservation Corps
During the morning hours of Saturday, June 1, Blue Action Democrats teamed up with Texas Conservation Corps and City of Austin Park Rangers to assist with a National Trails Day volunteer event at nearby Stephenson Nature Preserve. The 17-strong GSD! crew was by far the largest group of volunteers.
Six of our kids pitched in, the youngest being only five years old!
Covered in bug spray and sunscreen, all endured the heat, humidity, and chiggers to improve the Stephenson Preserve Loop Trail.
The rock squad, led by Kennon Wooten, collected and hauled ten tons of stone to fill a washed out ravine. The closers, led by 14-year-olds Ally Frisch and Kate Bryant, closed off an old trail by filling in washout ruts with branches and rock and planting the improved surfaces with native seed. Finally, the drainage team, led by Mingfei Yi and CJ Zhao, created four rolling grade dips to create erosion free drainage on the main loop trail.
We all learned a lot about trail maintenance and all of our assigned tasks were completed ahead of schedule. Trailboss Paul Stuffel was quite impressed, even with a team bragging that we GSD!!
We encourage you to visit the preserve to view our work.
Blue Action Democrats thanks all of our hardworking volunteers for walking the walk and helping our community!