Orchid Gem

Michelle and Dave Parasiuk
Ready to Participate


By:  Pamela Jean Horter-Moore

While we were in Covid-19 lockdown, we had an opportunity to learn about Michelle Panasiuk’s orchids and growing conditions in an OSWP Orchid Culture Connection eblast. However, we couldn’t resist interviewing her and her husband Dave for the OSWP newsletter, especially in light of their contribution to the success of our recent Orchid Show and active participation in community service.


How long have you been a member of OSWP? 


Three years.


Why did you join?


We joined after meeting Tim Choltco at the Orchid Plant Sale at Phipps a few years ago. We didn’t know much about orchids, so he helped us pick out some plants. He had so much information to share.


We bought about 15 different orchids that no beginner would ever have had the opportunity to purchase for $1, $2 and $5, and most of them are still alive today. We were overwhelmed by the variety of orchids that were available, and we developed a passion for the hobby then and there. Seeing Tim’s OSWP name tag led us to inquire about the Society, and so here we are.


Can you tell us about your experiences participating in the recent OSWP Orchid Show?


Michelle: We really enjoyed participating in the orchid show. Dave and I prepared the show trophies and ran the raffle table. The portable mic and speaker that we had originally used when we were giving tours of the Pittsburgh City Parks came in handy because Dave ended up handling some of the announcements during the course of the show.


We had attended previous shows but really had no idea of how much work went into them and how many people dedicated their time toward their success. Considering that the show was held on the first weekend of the Covid-19 closures, we were happy that it was so successful. We were excited to meet so many member volunteers whom we hadn’t known very well before. Our new friends shared a lot of history and instruction with us. We had such a great time on the first day of the show that we decided to get a room at the Crown Plaza Hotel so we could be there early in the morning on the second day of the show!


I understand that you volunteer at Phipps. What do you do there? 


Michelle: I have been volunteering at Phipps every Tuesday for the past seven years. I start my day in the Orchid Room helping to tidy up before Phipps is open to guests. Then I water the orchids in the greenhouse. The second half of my day at Phipps is spent helping in the other greenhouses. I do a variety of jobs, such as seeding, repotting, deadheading, and installing seasonal displays. There is always something that needs to be done!


Dave: My dear loving wife is the Phipps volunteer. I visit occasionally to make sure she comes home.


Are there other organizations that you work with or other things that you enjoy doing? 


Michelle: I enjoy attending plant-related lectures and classes. I’ve been a Master Gardener since 2014 and have recently received a certificate for Sustainable Horticulture. I am currently working to complete a certificate for Landscape and Garden Design.


Dave: I am president of the Oakcliffe Community Organization, and have served on the Board of Directors of Venture Outdoors, Oakland Business Improvement District, and the Southside Chamber of Commerce.


Michelle and I both enjoy local Pittsburgh history, and love to share it with others as we hike around town looking for traces of the past. We are the owners of Dave’s Music Mine, a music store formerly on Carson Street in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood. We are both honored recipients of the Jefferson Award for Public Service as nominated by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.


What is your philosophy of life? 


There is an old Polish saying: “Nie bądź ciepłym kluski.” “Don’t be a warm noodle.”


Are there any thoughts that you would like to share? 


Don’t be afraid to volunteer. You will enjoy your time with others more than you would think. And don’t be afraid to approach other members with what you think might be stupid questions. You’ll find that there are many different opinions within the Society, and you won’t know what works for you unless you ask. 


© 2023 Orchid Society of Western Pennsylvania

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