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Parks and Rec Foundation gets off to strong start

A new arm of the Excelsior Springs Parks and Recreation Department has begun opening up new doors with regards to community improvement.

Earlier this year the Parks and Recreation Foundation Board formed in an attempt at trying their hands to help the Parks and Recreation Department succeed in their goals and projects.  Katie Noyd, Director of the ESP&R, said that the foundation’s mission statement is: “The mission of the Excelsior Springs Parks and Recreation Foundation shall be to further advance and promote the activities and resources of the Excelsior Springs Parks and Recreation Department through education, awareness, conservation and preservation, which will
positively impact the quality of life, health and well-being of Excelsior Springs residents and visitors.”

The board got a jump start on their mission six months ago when they began determining which projects they wanted to begin on and started the paperwork to become a non-profit 501 (c)3, and began the Friends of the Park organization.  Noyd said their first project was to promote the Bridging the Gap Tree Fund, which is currently raising funds to plant more trees in Excelsior Springs.

“If our city can raise $1,000, the Dunn Family Foundation will match those funds and Bridging the Gap will plan a tree planting day in Excelsior Springs.  This is a great way to expand our tree canopy and replace trees that have fallen due to drought or ice storms,” she explained.  As of June 20, Noyd said the Tree Fund had reached $835, just $165 shy of their goal.  Citizens can still go online to donate any amount at www.treesformycity.org.

“The foundation wants to focus on projects that will add to the amenities of the park system.  Future projects include tree identification in the parks, promoting Pride in the Park cleanup days, increasing the historical preservation in our parks and future projects like a splash park, dog park and playgrounds,” Noyd said.  The foundation is also looking to recruit citizens from within the community to become part of their Friends of the Park organization.  Noyd said this group of people would assist the foundation in their fundraising, volunteering and advocacy.

“This will be a great way to give back and support your parks and recreation,” she continued. “Members will receive a ‘Friends of the Park’ T-shirt, receive special ‘Friends of the Park’ newsletters and invitations to service projects benefiting the parks.”

As of now Parks and Recreation Foundation board members include Christi Rice, President; Tray Harkins, Vice President; Keith Winge, Treasurer; Craig Bohnert, Secretary; Stephanie Landwehr, Kim McElwee, Kevin Morgan, William Greim Jr. and Erin Schreir.

Getting involved in the community and getting the word out about the foundation is very important, Noyd added, and the foundation’s first upcoming event will be this weekend at the 31st Annual Waterfest in downtown Excelsior Springs.

The foundation, in cooperation with the Excelsior Springs Parks and Recreation Department, will be hosting games and activities on both Friday and Saturday during the festival.  Noyd said there would be an inflatable water slide, bounce house, multiple carnival games and a Free Fun Zone that will have sidewalk chalk, bubbles and more.  Wristbands for inflatable games will be available for purchase for $8 and carnival games will require purchased tickets.  Foundation members will be on hand to sign up any citizens interested in becoming members of the Friends of the Park organization.  As an incentive anyone who signs up for a Friend of the Park organization during Waterfest weekend will receive $3 off of his or her wristband.

By Jae Juarez • jae@leaderpress.com

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