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.

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.

Back Yard Bird Shop is a Friend!

The Backyard Bird Shop has made a very generous offer of matching donations to the NatureSpace made at their Fremont Store between October 22 – November 4. Backyard Bird Shop is a great place to get fun, environmentally friendly holiday gifts for anyone on your list and they are a terrific locally owned chain. If you’d like to visit the store and support our NatureSpace project with a donation it would be very much appreciated. We will use the funds to pay for the hundreds of native plants and shrubs we are buying. Here’s a digital flyer that you can share online:

Don’t forget to sign up to volunteer for Planting Day at the NatureSpace on Saturday, November 10! Also, we’ll be celebrating the completed NatureSpace at our November 14 meeting, so be sure to put that on your calendar. Anyone who is interested in making improvements to the dog park or fundraising for the children’s play area should also attend this meeting.

Volunteers needed!

Our push for volunteers and donations for the NatureSpace is rolling out! We have secured a grant for about $10,000 from the Community Watershed Stewardship Program and have applied for more, but any extra donations that come in will mean more plants, shrubs, and trees for a vibrant, healthy habitat between the picnic area and the pavilion at Wilshire Park. We also have a site plan. Check it out!

The space will be enclosed by a simple split-rail fence, with a curving path and layers of low, medium, and tall plants to fill the canopy under the mature Douglas Firs already at the park. Here’s the location of the NatureSpace within the park:

Site of NatureSpace within Wilshire Park

We’ve been working with members of Portland Parks and Recreation to develop this plan. Our hope is that the NatureSpace will serve many needs. It will help prevent runoff and erosion into storm drains, provide shelter and food for native and migrating birds, and give bird enthusiasts a great place to spot their favorite flying friends. As it’s adjacent to the picnic area, we know it will provide a pleasant place for children to explore or for families to sit and relax after a meal. We’ve also learned that students from Beaumont Middle School have surveyed the site with their science teachers, taking soil measurements and counting the number of plant and animal species they saw in the home of the future NatureSpace. An ongoing school science project will be to track the soil health and biodiversity of the site. This project is especially gratifying to the Friends of Wilshire Park, as it shows what a direct public benefit the NatureSpace will be.

As Friends of Wilshire Park is a grassroots organization, we are not a 501(c)3 and cannot collect tax-deductible donations. To ensure that we are transparent about how we handle funds and meet every legal requirement for fundraising, we’ve partnered with the Central Northeast Neighbors Coalition, the umbrella group for our cluster of Portland neighborhoods here in Northeast. They’ll hold onto every tax-deductible donation that comes in for the NatureSpace, and donors will be able to see how every penny was spent. A crowdfunding effort will begin soon to augment the grant we’ve secured, which will mean more plants, a more lush space, and more happy people and animals at Wilshire Park.

Our page at friendsofwilshirepark.org/volunteer will always have the latest information on what you can do to help make the park a nicer place for everyone. If you would like to be added to our mailing list for Wilshire Park Volunteers, please drop us a line at [email protected] We will never share your information with third parties and you will only receive information about volunteer projects at the park. You can also subscribe to our newsletter using the form in the column to the right on this page. This will allow you to get all of the news and announcements about upcoming projects, meetings, and events.

Meeting Notes: 20 June 2018

On June 20, 10 Friends gathered for our monthly meeting with our new President, Gary Hancock, presiding. In attendance from the City of Portland were Evan Callahan from the Parks department’s bond team, Park Supervisor Mike Grosso, Partnership and Development Coordinator Jessie Bond, and Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes Coordinator Eric Rosewall.

At this meeting we were able to hear the good news that Wilshire Park will receive some funds from a bond passed by voters in 2014 for the repair and maintenance of equipment in Portland’s parks. The bond had passed with 74% of voter support and initially allocated $48 million for improvements and maintenance at parks all over the city. $28 million of the bond remains, and Wilshire Park has been given a slice of these funds to replace the largest of the toddler play structures. This was great news for the Friends, as the sad state of the children’s play equipment has been one of our primary areas of concern.

Furthermore, Jessie Bond will work with us as we raise funds privately to replace the other smaller pieces of play equipment. As we move forward, the Friends will need to make a formal agreement with the city that lays out how the funds will be raised, the amount of time allotted for fundraising, and the exact equipment that will be installed. At the next meeting of Friends of Wilshire Park, a formal Children’s Play Area Team will form to begin working on fundraising and planning for this project, much in the same way that the NatureSpace Team has functioned so far, with separate e-mail communication and in-person meetings from the main Friends group.

The Friends were also informed about the Adopt-a-bench program, which allows private donors to install seating in parks. A new park bench costs $5,000, and a refurbished bench is $3,000. At first glance this may seem like a high cost, but this amount covers the purchase of long-wearing, sturdy seating, in addition to its installation and maintenance. Unfortunately at all of Portland’s parks vandalism is common and costly, and even a bench that isn’t vandalized periodically needs cleaning, repainting and treatment for rusty parts.

The meeting then turned to Eric Rosewall, who gave an update on the NatureSpace. The site will be located just east of the picnic area, filling a disused patch of ground that covers about 10,000 square feet. It will be surrounded by a split rail fence and feature a gravel path with boulders and logs for seating. There will be between three and six volunteer days in fall and winter, which are the optimal time for installing native plants. Each planting day will require the work of 20 to 40 volunteers. The plan is nearly finalized and at this point there would likely only be minor tweaks to the design.

Oren Bernstein provided an update on fundraising for the NatureSpace. The project has already secured a grant of nearly $10,000 from the Community Watershed Stewardship Program, and the team is applying for a second smaller grant of $2,000 from another source. The NatureSpace team also plans to solicit donations directly from the community through a crowdfunding site. The Central Northeast Neighborhood Coalition is acting as our fiscal sponsor for this project, and as soon as details are finalized with them, we’ll begin a big push for donations, using printable flyers and graphics that can be shared online to spread the word. More donations means more plants, a more lush space, and a stronger ecosystem in what we hope will be a pleasant area for parkgoers and healthy habitat for birds.