Here at United Way of Whitewater Valley, we support organizations that are making a large impact on Wayne and Union counties. United Way does not just support programs that provide social services we also provide support to programs that rejuvenate our environment. These programs and projects bring our community together. Especially in the aftermath of 2020, we all need to be more involved with each other. As a catalyst for change in Wayne and Union Counties we support programs in four focus areas: access to health, childhood success, youth success, and economic mobility.
Renovation and rejuvenation are the focus of Richmond Parks and Recreation. The Richmond Parks and Recreation Department is in charge of 23 parks. Covering more than 100,100 acres all over Wayne county. The parks provide a place for children to play, adults to exercise and give families a location to get fresh air. Without the maintenance of all of the Wayne County parks, individuals and families would have fewer safe environments to spend time in nature. The Richmond Parks department has several projects that have encouraged community unity. They have also made the community a safer place to be.
In a small suburban portion of Wayne County lies a small park and playground. This park is a hangout for many children, but over many years the upkeep had fallen behind. The park was not fenced, all the play equipment was outdated and unsafe. When the Richmond Parks and Recreation Department conducted an audit on this small park it was not up to code, meaning it was unsafe for children and an accident waiting to happen. The Richmond Parks and Recreation department started the Make Starr Park Shine campaign to raise funds and awareness to rejuvenate Starr Park.
The community rallied behind this effort to make Starr Park a place that parents wanted their children to play. They helped the Parks and Recreation department raise funds and help by volunteering their time. The Rotary Club of Richmond adopted Starr Park and they volunteer their time to pick up the park. They keep it clean and beautiful for the families in the surrounding area. One way the Richmond Parks and Recreation Department was able to engage the community was through social media. They allow individuals to vote on the color theme and the extra components added to the park. The social media campaign made the entire community feel a part of the mission to improve Richmond’s parks.
The Make Starr Park Shine campaign raised enough money to build a new retainer wall, shelter with a grill, and half basketball court. With the help of the community, these new additions got Starr Park up to code. This accomplishment meant that all six parks with playgrounds were up to safety standards.
Macie Grace Foundation
The Make Starr Park Shine campaign received national attention. The Macie Grace Foundation found out about the Make Starr Park Shine initiative and partnered with the Richmond Parks and Recreation Department to raise money. The Macie Grace Foundation focuses on making playgrounds safe for children. The Make Starr Park Shine was one of the first initiatives to benefit from the Macie Grace Foundation.
Starr Park was not the first park to receive a facelift. The first park to receive love from the community was the Clear Creek playground. The Richmond Parks and Recreation Department added a sensory playground with a focus on improving childhood development. In 2018, the Middlefork playground was also renovated to make the playground safe for children.
The Richmond Parks and Recreation department’s reach does not just stop at maintaining and improving parks. They also host the Richmond Farmer’s Market. The vendors of the farmers market are growers and producers of vegetables, fruits, jams, canned goods, honey, syrup and so much more. The Richmond Farmer’s Market supports local farmers and gardeners. This allows them to sell their produce and products directly to customers. They also offer a SNAP Double Dollars Program, which allows all families who receive SNAP to purchase fresh produce. Learn more about their SNAP Double Dollars Program sponsored by Reid Health. For more information on the location, dates, and times of the Richmond Farmers Market, visit their website.
If you are interested in becoming a vendor at the farmer market, check out their website for the application. They also have many seasonal jobs that need to be filled during the summer months. Visit their website for more information on job positions and descriptions.
Partnership and collaboration
At United Way of Whitewater Valley, we understand how important our environment is to the residents of Wayne and Union county. We have supported multiple projects initiated by the Richmond Parks Department. We were honored to distribute $15,000 in funds to the Make Starr Park Shine initiative. Over the last 2 years, this campaign has improved Starr Park and made Richmond safer for all its residents.
United Way of Whitewater Valley also supports the Richmond Farmer’s Market this is one way we can help all Wayne and Union county residents’ access healthy and fresh food; it also allows us to support our local farmers and gardeners. In June of 2020, we donated $10,000 to support the farmers market from the effects of COVID-19. Everything that the Richmond Parks and Recreation Department is doing to improve the lives and health of so many residents makes us a proud supporter of their mission.