That was some good soup!

The Friends of Wilshire Park raised $500 at its open house held on February 1, all of which will go directly toward the cost of the new playhouse for the toddler area of the playground. New and old Friends met on a characteristically gloomy January day in Portland, but that just made the several varieties of homemade soup and loaves of hot bread all the more tasty.

We are so very close to reaching our fundraising goal for the playground. Completing the playhouse will make the toddler area even nicer than it was before, with all of the play features that generations of neighborhood kids have loved. If you weren’t able to make it out to our open house, feel free to drop by at our next group meeting or make a donation. All contributions are fully tax-deductible and go straight toward the park.

Hot Soup on Saturday

We are in the final stretch of fundraising to finish the children’s play area at Wilshire Park. We are so close — frustratingly close — to getting the last few thousand dollars we need to put in a brand new playhouse to go along with the new car structure, which has been a big hit with kids of all ages.

One of our members has generously opened her home this Saturday, February 1, to kick off our final fundraising push. She’s a spectacular cook and will be offering homemade soup and bread to anyone who comes, which sounds awfully good as this weekend looks like it will be a typical soggy, wet January day here in Portland. Old and new Friends of Wilshire Park can get together to connect, brainstorm ideas, and — you guessed it — make a donation as we’ll have a box all ready for contributions.

If you haven’t been out to a meeting or activity hosted by the Friends lately, please come on out. The soup will be warm and so will the company. There will be activities for kids to do while parents and neighbors chat, so bring the whole family.

This is an open house event, running from 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm, held at 3724 NE 36th Avenue here in Portland, just a few blocks from Wilshire Park.

A Kid Emptied Her Piggy Bank for the Playground

At the November Friends of Wilshire Park meeting, one of the group members walked in the door and set this piggy bank on the table:

It was sent by her daughter, who learned that the group still needs more funds to pay for the new playhouse at the Wilshire Park playground. She had run to her room, grabbed her entire life savings, and gave it away to say thank you for the new car play structure and to do her bit toward finishing the playground.

With the completion of the play car and the repair of the merry-go-round the playground is looking much better but we won’t stop working until it has all the old worn out structures are replaced and even more improvements are made. Please consider donating today. Everything you give is tax-deductible and will make Wilshire Park a great place for kids and families for decades.

Donate Here Today and
Help Us Finish Our Playground!

Getting the car play structure put in also proved to us the value of grassroots efforts to make our public spaces better for everyone. Without the support and advice provided by the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association and the Central Northeast Neighbors Coalition, the Friends never would have been able to get this project done. If you haven’t done so already, please consider speaking up on behalf of our neighborhood association, as there are currently efforts by a few city officials to weaken or even eliminate groups like ours. The Friends cordially invite those skeptical about the motives of neighborhood associations to come on out to Wilshire Park and see all the happy children playing on the new play structure. We didn’t do this just for our kids or our neighbors’ kids. We did it for every child that visits the park, and we intend to keep working to make our park a pleasant, beautiful place with something to offer for everyone.

Hey Kids! It’s a New Car!

Great news, friends! Yesterday installation began on the new car play structure! It isn’t even finished but it already looks great. Seeing the car go in feels great for the whole neighborhood as we’ve been working toward this for a long time.

The new car was paid for entirely by a community donation, and its installation is possible due to the support and advice of the Parks Department. It is large enough to hold several kids at once and sturdy enough to last until they are grownups with their own little ones. A few more panels and pieces will be added after the concrete cures.

The sandbox emptied completely as soon as the cement truck rolled up, with little ones asking their parents “WHEN CAN I PLAY ON THAT” and admiring an expert installation job being done by staff from Portland Parks and Recreation:

The only hard part now is waiting a few more days for the concrete anchors to set and for the rest of the panels to be installed.

We’ll keep you posted on when the car is ready for the kids to drive it to anywhere their imagination takes them. In the meantime, remember that the only thing better than a new car . . . is a new playhouse to go with it! We have raised thousands of dollars already for the replacement playhouse, and you can get us the rest of the way right now by donating! We have a little in our GoFundMe account and even more in direct donations to our fiscal sponsor, the Central Northeast Neighbors Coalition.

All donations are 100% tax deductible and are a wonderful way to show your commitment to fun, safe outdoor spaces for children.

Donate now and help us finish the Wilshire Park Playground!

 

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 cafĂ© 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!