I hate to fly. We’re talking white knuckles from wheels up to wheels down. When I fly, I have no control, and when I have no control, my mind wonders. When my mind wonders, I end up thinking about blown engines, and what those 40 seconds would feel like as I plunge to my death.
It was with that fear that I was offered a job from my uncle to become part of his parks and recreations consulting firm. Which was good news… I was a recent University of Kansas grad, fresh off a semi-successful fraternity rush campaign, let’s just say the job offers weren’t exactly pouring in. The bad news? We would fly…a lot. Sometimes as many as four flights in five days. Brutal.
I reluctantly decided to take my uncle’s offer, thinking, you face your fears, not hide behind them. I was sure that after six months, they’d be asking me to take over the cockpit controls when the pilots chose fish for dinner. Unfortunately, my fear never subsided, and I ended up lasting only a few months flying around America. I learned many things that summer, most notably, that those parks & recreations departments that had partnered with a citizen led “friends ” group had beautiful park systems. I told my uncle, as I walked off our last flight together, that when I got settled, I would look to start my own “friends” group.
Fast forward to 2008, after settling in Wentzville, MO, I met with, and ultimately convinced a friend of mine by the name of Mark Horst to begin a citizen led, non-profit organization. A few weeks later the Friends of the Wentzville Parks (FoWP) was born. Our Mission: To help bring about a world-class parks and recreations department to the city of Wentzville. Since the beginning, we’ve been an advocate for local parks. Raising money and helping to build projects such as a basketball court and batting cages.
In early 2012, we helped to introduce and fund the “We Play” scholarship program. It is, without a doubt, my proudest Friends of the Parks accomplishment to date.
Here’s the deal, if you live in my home town, and cannot afford to use the services and programs offered through the parks, the FoWp will pick up the tab. Can’t afford a pool pass? No problem, we’ll take care of it. Recently lost your job and can’t find the money to sign up for t- ball? No worries, we got it. This economy got you feeling like you are plunging towards Earth, no control in sight? We got your parachute.
In only a few short months, dozens of families have applied and qualified for the “We Play” scholarship program. The FoWP has put thousands of dollars to use in our community, advocating health & well-being, above all else. None of this would be possible without the aforementioned Mr. Horst, fellow board members Jeff Simmons, Dan Berg, and of course our parks directors Mary Jo Dessieux and Assistant Director Dottie Phillips.
It’s been a great ride, and our organization loves our parks…but I’ll let you in on a little secret…the FoWP is a pretty small group. We’ve been fortunate to forge some nice partnerships in the community, but we actually only do one fundraiser a year.
That happens to be the Pound the Pavement for Parks 5k & 10k. This years race will be held on August 25th, in conjunction with Wabash Days, and will begin in downtown Wentzville. You can get all the information here.
I write today because we could use your help. The FoWP is caught in a conundrum beset by so many non profits these days. The vicious economy means more and more people need our help. Yet, that same economy makes our fundraising efforts that much harder. So here’s where you come in…there are many ways to help, here are just a few:
Share our story…Tweet it, Like it, Pin it, Google+ it…(who am I kidding, no one uses google +), whatever fits your social media fancy. While you’re at it, follow us on Twitter here and like our Facebook page here.
Sign up for the race. Go ahead, use our race as the excuse you need to get healthy. If you’ve never run a 5k, use this guide to get you started. If you are an accomplished runner, then what are you waiting for? Get signed up!
Volunteer. We could use all-hands-on-deck day of, or if you can’t be there, print off some flyers and take’em to your place of business, or take’em to church, or take’em to wherever you want, just take’em!
Sponsor the race with your donations. Checks can be made out to Friends of the Wentzville Parks, and mailed to 4722 Providence Woods Circle, Wentzville, MO 63385.
What I can share with you is this: Your race entry or donations will go towards making our parks world-class, but will also go to those in need. We know children do better in school when they are exposed to youth programs. It builds self-esteem and keeps kids busy after school. In these economic times, it’s as important as ever, that no child or family is denied the ability to enjoy our parks, regardless of their financial situation.
So, who’s with me? Let’s go Pound some Pavement!