Fundraising Update

Things are looking good for the Wilshire Park playground. We hosted a successful fundraiser at The Wiggle Room on July 29 and donations have been coming both directly to the offices of our neighborhood coalition, which is kindly acting as our fiscal sponsor, and to our GoFundMe account. This project would not be possible without the help of the Central Northeast Neighbors, which works hard to support our community in more ways than we know.

The fundraiser party kicked off at 9 AM, and all day there was a bubble machine, popcorn, and face painting, music, while their parents relaxed with food and drinks in the Wiggle Room’s café space. Volunteers from Friends of Wilshire Park read stories and led a ukulele sing-along. The event did just as much to raise community awareness of the value of this project as it did to bring in the funds needed to purchase and install a playhouse at a park that draws in parents of young children from all over Northeast Portland because of its level ground, well-shaded play area, and equipment that is good for babies and toddlers.

Many local businesses generously donated to the event, giving gift cards for a raffle and items for the auction. House Spirits, Gazelle Natural Fiber Clothing, Laurelwood Brewhouse, Just4Kids Clothing, New Seasons Market, Fit4Mom Cedar Mill, The Portland Symphonic Choir, and Keys To Life Music all made contributions, as did several neighbors who are active members of Friends of Wilshire Park. Please show your thanks to all of the community sponsors who help us.

So where are we at financially? Well, the new car play structure has been purchased. We don’t have an exact delivery date yet but it will be installed within the next few months and we’ll provide updates as often as we can. It will look like many of the other off-road vehicle type toys in other parks in Portland, such as the Mount Tabor playground:

Check out those dual steering wheels! No more fighting over who gets to drive. This design is in keeping with our community poll, which favored a woodland theme.

So what about the playhouse? As of the beginning of August, we have got $2,690. That’s cash on hand from all donations after $15,025 was paid out to purchase the new car toy. That may seem expensive at first glance, but that price includes demolition of the old car, clearing away the site, building new supports, having the car toy manufactured in Minnesota and shipped here, and then having it installed. This toy will also survive 30 years’ worth of children climbing all over it. It’s a good investment in our children and our neighborhood. We’ll need roughly the same sum to purchase a new playhouse, although the more we raise the more options we have for purchasing play structures. The exact price for an item depends upon when it is purchased, as factors such as fuel costs and whether or not the item is purchased as a one-off or part of a bulk order for other play structures destined for Portland’s parks can have a substantial impact on pricing.

Now, what can you do? Our fundraiser party really did a lot to raise awareness and some cash, but what we really need now is, well, cash. All donations to this project are 100% tax deductible and can be made by visiting friendsofwilshirepark.org/donate. Now that school is back in we are hoping that parents active in local PTAs, members of scouting groups, and other child-focused organizations will help us keep spreading the word and bringing in enough cash to get this project finished. You can print and share handouts, tell people to subscribe to our newsletter, or come to our next meeting to help out.

We’re getting a new car!

Great news, friends! An anonymous donor has made a very generous cash contribution and we now have enough funds to purchase a new car play structure. This means that a new car toy will likely be installed by the end of the year. The exact piece will be chosen from the catalog of equipment that has already been approved for use in Portland’s parks. It will resemble an off-road vehicle good for exploring in the mountains or wherever a young imagination needs to go. It also won’t give the kids any splinters.

This is a big victory for us, and it’s made us all the more excited about finishing these much needed improvements to the toddler play area. If you want to help, please check out this handy list at friendsofwilshirepark.org/help for all the ways that you can make our neighborhood park better.

Spread the Word!

Our fundraising effort for new playground equipment at Wilshire Park is going well, but you can help us reach even more people by spreading the word! Please follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/FriendsofWilshirePark and Instagram at instagram.com/friendsofwilshirepark. If you’re coming to our big fundraiser party at The Wiggle Room on July 28, please go to our Facebook event page and click “Going.” This will mean that your friends will be more likely to see this event in their own timeline, and that means more attendees and more direct donations.

You can also help in a more low-tech way. Here are some posters that you can either share online or print out and post at local businesses or even the window of your car as you drive around town.

This poster will fill an ordinary 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper:

And this page has four small versions of the flyer, which can be cut up and used as a small poster or a handout:

This one is square-shaped, making it perfect for Instagram, Twitter or Facebook:

As always, these posters will be archived on our Resources page so you can find them when you need them.

Fundraising news

Our fundraising efforts for new playground equipment are moving full speed ahead. Cash donations have started coming in, and our goal of replacing the car play structure is looking good. We know that reaching our next goal of a new playhouse is also well within reach, and we can get there with your help. Even better, an anonymous donor has stepped forward with a generous contribution that will pay for the bulk of the cost of the new car. So what can you do to get us the rest of the way there? Well, we have three things you can do right now.

First, please share our GoFundMe page. We set up this campaign because remembering to sit down to write and mail a check can be difficult, and friends and relatives who live far away may find it easier to contribute online. You can find our campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/ronda039s-campaign-for-central-northeast-neighbors. Please share this on social media accounts and e-mail it to friends and family. Even better, make a donation yourself. We’ve set a goal of $10,000, which would cover the remainder of the cost of the car play structure, but the sky is the limit! The more funds we raise, the more new, fun, safe play equipment we can purchase for the kids to enjoy.

Second, we are delighted to announce that The Wiggle Room, a local indoor play space, has generously offered to host a fundraiser play day for the Friends. The owners, Chris and Jessica Wade, want to use their business to help us out. This day will be a lot of fun — there will be live music performances, face painting, and, of course, the tasty food and drinks and fun play space that has made The Wiggle Room a family favorite in our community. Half of all proceeds collected that day will be donated to our cause, and this will be augmented from funds we raise from a silent auction. If you have an item or service that you would like to donate to our auction or would like to volunteer to help with the event, please contact us at [email protected].

We have a Facebook event page set up, so please click to say you will attend and share the event with your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/2065846350209444/. You can also share these digital flyers, or print them and post them anywhere you can to let others know they can have a lot of fun while helping a good cause:

Third, the most direct way to help is to send a check directly to Central Northeast Neighbors, our fiscal sponsor. Since Friends of Wilshire Park are just a grassroots group and not a registered charity, our official neighborhood coalition has stepped in to help us with collecting cash in a way that follows all laws and allows donors to claim 100% of their donations on their taxes. As we’ve noted on our Donate Page, please write “Friends of Wilshire Park” in the memo section of your check so that CNN will know that you’ve sent the funds in for the playground equipment. Your check can go to:

Central Northeast Neighbors
4415 NE 87th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97220

We’ll see you at the fundraiser!

Ready, Set, Fundraise!

This little car and the playhouse behind it have been loved by generations of kids here in Northeast Portland. To be quite honest, it’s been loved to death. It’s splintering and those old boards are creaking. It’s time to retire this hard-working piece of play equipment and get something new.

There is currently nothing in the city budget, however, to pay for a new toy car, which can cost over $20,000. That may seem like a lot but the price tag covers more than just a toy. The price includes the fabrication of the equipment in Minnesota, shipping the pieces out, removing the old parts, building supports below ground level, and assembling the new equipment, which is made to last about 30 years. This is not a cheap backyard toy that will break after a few summers — the equipment is made from high-quality, hard-wearing materials that will survive the thousands of rugrats who will climb all over it every day in the coming decades.

The Friends have worked with representatives from the city to come up with a way to privately fund the replacement of the equipment. We can’t alter the site’s layout — this would trigger a costly and time-consuming review process. The current budget situation at the Parks Department doesn’t leave any staff time for such a review anyway, so we came up with a simpler solution — we’ll select very similar items out of the catalog that the city already uses. These items are already approved, so they don’t need review. The city also already has a contract with a construction company that installs play equipment in Portland’s parks, so no review process is needed to pay them directly to install the equipment. All we have to do is come up with the cash.

Particular pieces of equipment that will go in will follow the theme that our neighbors voted for in our poll — Woodland. This was the landslide winner, and that came as no surprise to us as Wilshire Park’s soaring Douglas Firs remind us of what we love most about Oregon — its beautiful natural spaces. So the broken little car will be replaced by something that looks like an off-road vehicle and the play house might be a little cabin. But they will be similar in size to the existing toys and will still be appropriate for children aged 5 and under. The basic function and overall look of the play space will not change, other than being more attractive and safer. After speaking with parents, the Friends have decided to buy a new car first, and then replace the cabin as the car is slightly more popular with the kids.

So what can you do? The best way to help is with cash. Any amount that you can give to this project will get us there that much sooner. Because the Friends of Wilshire Park are a grassroots group and is not legally able to handle money, the Central Northeast Neighbors Coalition has generously offered to act as our fiscal sponsor. They are an officially recognized part of Portland’s neighborhood system and a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. This means they can legally accept donations and pay the company building the new play pieces. It also means that every penny donated is 100% tax-deductible. You can send your checks to:

Central Northeast Neighbors
4415 NE 87th
Portland, Oregon 97220

IMPORTANT: Please write “Friends of Wilshire Park” in the memo section of your check so that CNN knows that the donation is for the improvements to the children’s play area.

We have other plans in the works to raise funds and will make more announcements soon, but direct cash donations will be the fastest and best way to make a difference at our neighborhood park. Our kids deserve safe, fun places to play, imagine, and grow. Your contribution can make a huge difference. No amount is too small.

If a financial donation is beyond your means, then you can also help by spreading the word! Tell your friends, neighbors, and relatives. Many businesses look for ways to make a difference in their neighborhoods, and Portlanders are known for caring about one another and having fun outdoors. The amount we need to raise is a very realistic goal, and we can get there with your help.

And The Winner Is . . .

The results of our neighborhood poll are in, and the clear choice for the theme of the children’s play area at Wilshire Park is Woodland. About 40% of respondents were from the Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood, with Concordia and Alameda also well represented. Only a few neighbors from other neighborhoods voted in the poll:

We asked two sorts of questions. First, we asked people to rank each proposed theme. 1 for love it, 2 for neutral, 3 for hate it. Voters were lukewarm on the Barnyard and Submarine themes, but really liked the Woodland theme:

So while in the overall vote Woodland won 51% of the vote, the fact that it was the only theme people strongly liked made it the clear winner:

This result came as no surprise, as Wilshire Park’s soaring Douglas Firs remind us of Oregon’s beautiful woodlands and forests. Any of these themes would have been great. Kids really just need something to act as a foundation for their imaginations. But Woodland it is, and any future equipment put in by Friends of Wilshire Park will include items such as an 0ff-road vehicle, a play cabin, logs and stumps, or boulders. Great choice, neighborhood!

The Plan for the Toddler Play Area

Great news, Friends! At our most recent monthly meeting, we heard back from several members who have had conversations with people from Portland Parks and Recreation, and we now have a plan for how to finish fixing up the play area for small children at Wilshire Park.

We all know that over the last several years, there has been no money in the budget for parks like Wilshire while the city has devoted its parks funds to building new facilities in areas of the city that previously had no play spaces at all. The bad news is that it looks like the Parks budget will be further slashed in the coming years, so it’s up to us to raise the funds if we want to see improvements. There are a lot of political issues here, and the Friends of Wilshire Park take no position on that at present other than to say that we’ll never stop advocating for our park, which is the heart of our neighborhood and serves people from all over Portland because of its varied facilities, ease of access, and toddler play area, which very few parks in Portland have.

But the Parks team is able to meet us in the middle. If we can do the fundraising and work within their existing system, we can get some new equipment installed. This makes sense to us; the city already has contracts with builders and equipment vendors, so why start from scratch? The sample equipment we’ve seen in pictures and at parks around town look great. However, in order to achieve a full replacement of the rotting equipment at Wilshire Park, we will need to raise at least $50,000. This is achievable with the right level of commitment, and anything more we can raise would mean an even nicer park for our little ones.

We have outlined the following first steps to get our fundraising effort going:

1. Choose between three general themes for the play area

This does *not* mean selecting specific pieces of equipment. We will not be able to do that until we have raised money and know what we can afford to purchase. Instead we’ll choose between a Woodland theme, which matches Wilshire Park’s many native plants, a Barnyard theme, which goes with Northeast Portland’s strong tradition of mini-homesteading, or a Submarine theme, which really is just fun. These three themes were offered by the city’s vendor as having the best selection of equipment that is appropriate for small children. We want members of the community to participate in a poll, which is linked at the bottom of this post, to be sure that their voice is heard in the conversation.

2. Write grant applications

We need money, and when fundraising it’s best to spend time and energy on larger sums first. Our strategy is to start by applying for grants that fund the construction of children’s play areas, then move on to asking large businesses in the Portland area for donations, then ask local businesses and neighbors to chip in. As soon as our fiscal sponsor is in place, we’ll take money from anyone with a check to write, but the Friends should focus their energy on finding large sources of funding first. Our next meeting, to be held on March 13 at 7:00 pm at Bethany Lutheran Church, will be a grant writing workshop. We are asking all members of the Friends to search online for one or two parks grants and bring this information to the meeting so we can work on the applications together.

3. Set a deadline for fundraising

We do not want to have an open-ended period for fundraising, as this would lead to frustration and stall the construction of urgently needed equipment. At our meeting we did not set a firm deadline, but we thought that about six months would be right, beginning on the day that we secure a fiscal sponsor who can legally collect the money for us. As Friends of Wilshire Park is just a neighborhood group and not a 501(c)3 organization, it is very important that we use an organization that is a recognized charity so that we do everything properly and so that all donors can claim their donations as tax-deductible.

4. Fix the play area!

When we hit our fundraising goal or our deadline, whichever comes first, we’ll look at our budget and then see what equipment we can purchase. The new equipment won’t be identical in appearance to what is already at the park. The wooden structures that are currently there stopped being sold years ago. However, any new equipment will be similar in its function and age level. The Friends of Wilshire Park will actively seek input from the neighborhood when it’s time to do a final site plan, but please keep in mind that this step is still a long way off.

So what can you do now?

Spread the word! Come to our next meeting and bring a friend and come ready to help write grant applications. We also need your input on our poll to determine a theme for the play area. Please share the link to this poll with anyone who lives near Wilshire Park or who regularly uses Wilshire Park. As you can see below, there are images that offer a suggestion of what a theme might look like, but these are NOT specific site plans. A Woodland theme might have stepping logs, a cabin, a lumber truck, or any other piece of equipment that goes with an outdoorsy vibe. A Barnyard theme could have riding toys that look like animals, or perhaps a tractor, or, appropriately, a barn. The Submarine theme might have rideable seahorses, a submarine, climbable “kelp,” and other undersea-themed toys. When voting, please consider a few things. Think about how Wilshire Park already looks. Think about the fact that this equipment will be for kids five and under. And consider how it will affect the appearance of the park over the lifespan of the equipment — about thirty years.

Here’s the poll. You can vote right here or copy this link to spread the word to your neighbors:

What Theme Do You Think Best Fits the Wilshire Park Children’s Play Area?

Two volunteer opportunities

We hope you’ve had a good holiday season and are enjoying the NatureSpace and new toddler play structure at Wilshire Park. Please come to our next meeting on Wednesday, February 13 to see the plan we’ve been working on for continuing to improve the children’s play area.

There are two chances to help our neighborhood parks next week. The first is at Irving Park, which is just down the road from Wilshire Park. A small planting project will be taking place there on Tuesday, January 22 from 9 am to noon. School is out that day, so if you need something do with the kids, come on out to the park. If you’d like to help, please contact Hillary Maurer at [email protected] and let her know you’re coming.

Our second opportunity is happening Friday, January 25 at 9:30 am at Wilshire Park. The recent windstorms have left quite a lot of broken branches laying around our park, and we’ll be helping park staff clean them up. If you would like to volunteer, just send an e-mail to [email protected] and let us know you’ll be there. Dress for the weather and bring some good gardening gloves to protect your hands.

January meeting canceled

Because not much happens over the holidays, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of action items on our January agenda. For this reason, we’ve decided to cancel our meeting on Wednesday. However, the Friends have a request: send us your photos! If you participated in any of the volunteer days to help build the NatureSpace, or if you have a photo of yourselves enjoying Wilshire Park that you don’t mind sharing, please send it to us. We’ll post them here in a gallery as well as use them occasionally for illustrating grant applications, flyers, and online materials. We’ll take all kinds of photos — family photos, shots of your adorable dogs, joggers. All we ask is that the photo you submit be appropriate for a general audience and that you have the right to share it. We’ll never sell your photo or use it for commercial purposes, but it will of course be publicly posted on this website.

We’ll see you next month on Wednesday, February 13 — we can show some love to Wilshire Park just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Meeting Notes: 4 December 2018

The last 2018 meeting for Friends of Wilshire Park was held on Wednesday, December 4th at 7:00 pm. In attendence were Gary Hancock, Georgina Head, John Sandie, Al Ellis, Oren Bernstein and Peter Mogielnicki were present.  The initial discussion focused on a Mission and Vision statement but it was concluded that since we have readily available fiscal agents with Central Northeast Neighborhood coalition, Northeast Coalition of Neighbors, or the Portland Parks Foundation, it was not necessary to go through the complex process of becoming an independent 501(3)c organization and therefore unnecessary to agree on Mission or Vision statements at this point. The primary purpose of Friends of Wilshire Park remains to make improvements to the park that preserve and enhance its lovely character as a pleasant neighborhood park.

There was some discussion of dog park improvement which recognized that a group of the local community had met the previous week to focus on the dog park and that they seemed to be making some good progress and FWP was generally excited to see that project getting some traction.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to playground issues. The recent addition of previously planned new toddler equipment was gratefully acknowledged. The replacement of one of the rotting structures with a new play piece will go a long way to providing a place for children to play safely while the group works on replacing the rest of the equipment. There was significant interest in continuing to work towards improving the playground. The discussion focused on two possible paths:

  1. Begin to fund-raise with the goal of acquiring additional new playground equipment (Gary has catalogs of equipment and planned to review them for potential pieces ).   This path has the benefit that it is well defined and straightforward.
  2. Add natural elements to the playground.   This would be quite inexpensive (e.g. logs and boulders which would function  as climbing and balancing features, and double as adult seating.) A conceptual drawing of a sandbox improvement was reviewed.

There was also a discussion of a longer term vision for the playground – turning it into a “world class playground”.  There was a consensus that that should remain a long term aspiration, but a smaller focused project with good bang for the buck would be the right next step to focus on now. The broken merry-go-round was discussed  but no action steps emerged.

Tiffney Townsend was unable to attend but reported through Gary her conversation with Director of Northeast Parks Maintenance Mike Grosso about the feasibility of improving adult seating in the vicinity of the playground by strategically placing several community-funded boulders in the area.  Mr. Grosso’s initial response was a positive one but shortly thereafter Tiffney received the following e-mail:

We won’t be able to implement any new improvements until the entire scope of the project is reviewed by PP&R.  We have estimates and play themes for the potential toddler area. The Friends were going to determine how much money they can raise for that toddler area project.  Jessie Bond was the main PP&R contact, but she has moved on to a different job. I copied her manager, Jennifer Yocom, who can provide us with an interim contact until Jessie’s position is filled.

These ideas for including a nature play element would first need to be reviewed for compatibility and space requirements with the existing traditional play equipment.  Estimates would be needed for any potential nature play project and additional funding commitments from the Friends.

Let’s first find out from Jennifer where we are at presently in the overall process and go from there.

The meeting ended with a plan for Gary Hancock and Oren Bernstein to meet with Mike Grosso to clarify his note and explore ways to move forward. Others in attendance will explore other routes toward playground improvement.