Brightly colored picnic blankets covered the grass at Lincoln Park on Saturday Sept. 16 as sounds of barking dogs, tag and the Capitol Hillbillies music filled the air.
The community presence here isn’t new, resident Jeni Schoemaker remembers, noting that she bought a house in this neighborhood because of the park –but an organization to help improve and maintain it is.
Saturday marked the official establishment of the Friends of Lincoln Park, a partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) founded to help care for and improve the park for years to come.
Schoemaker is the Director of the Board of the Friends of Lincoln Park. Started first working to improve the space more than five years ago. While her daughter loved coming to the park each day after school, she noticed that it was in a state of disrepair.
Schoemaker led several clean up efforts. But she soon realized that she was unable to make any major improvements without a formal partnership with the NPS.
Meanwhile, fellow Board Secretary and neighbor Jason Maga also frequented the park with his two children and noticed the park was in need of some additional care.
“I noticed that there were a lot of maintenance improvements and cleaning needs that could probably happen more quickly if there was a mechanism for community members to get involved,” Maga said of his involvement in the project. “There are just so many things that people would like to help with.”
It wasn’t a quick or easy process; Schoemaker worked for five years, reaching out to the NPS in order to establish this partnership. The Friends of Lincoln Park also established a nonprofit in order to manage donations and volunteer efforts.
While clean up efforts were the catalyst to the organization’s founding, the Friends organization also hopes to make improvements in the park to make it more accessible and clean. Some immediate goals include getting water service established, improving the condition of the grass and replacing broken garbage cans to prevent rodent infestation in the area.
As an established nonprofit organization, the group also has the ability to raise funds for bigger projects. One of their long term goals is to replace and expand the current playgrounds with more modern equipment and make it “more engaging for kids of all ages.”
There are many ways to get involved with Friends. They are seeking volunteers, donations, grant writers and board members as the organization continues to grow and build momentum in the neighborhood.
Visit lincolnparkdc.net for more information about volunteer opportunities, to sign up for the email list, to make a donation and learn more about the park.
Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.