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7,000 Hours This Year, And Counting

Highlights Of A Year In The Neighborhood

By Sierra Fleenor

Executive Director, GPHC

Sierra Fleenor

Every October, GPHC celebrates our achievements, elects new and returning board leaders, and recognizes our outstanding volunteers at our annual meeting. This year, we met at Park Hill Golf Club on Thursday, Oct. 5, for dinner and great conversation. If you were there, you know it was an amazing evening.

I’d like to share a few highlights about the work we’ve been doing, based on my presentation from that meeting. This year has been truly remarkable. I became executive director of the best Registered Neighborhood Organization in Denver  on Jan. 9.  It’s been nonstop work and joy ever since.

This very newspaper, the Greater Park Hill News, has been publishing since 1961, and continues to thrive. Under the editorship of Cara DeGette, this year we brought home several prestigious journalism awards for news coverage, as well as photography.

The Greater Park Hill News employs a unique delivery system in which volunteers and blockworkers bundle and distribute newspapers to the neighborhood. We are lucky to have an exceptional staff running our paper, including Newspaper Manager Melissa Davis, Art Director Tommy Kubitsky, Advertising Representatives Leif Cedar and Blair Taylor, and of course, Editor DeGette. A big thanks to the advertisers, who enable our newspaper to produce important news and feature coverage of our neighborhood.

Food for everyone

Our food programs have continued to thrive, providing much needed nutritional support to Greater Park Hill neighbors and students.

This year, our food pantry has served 172 households and 462 residents. Each month in 2017, we have served an average of 40 households. We have received more than 14,000 pounds of donations of non-perishable items, and 600 pounds of fresh food. We are currently surveying clients, volunteers, and donors so we can evaluate how our food pantry is working and what changes, if any, need to be made.

During the 2016-17 academic year, our Weekend Food Program served 175 students for 41 weeks. We provided 35,875 meals and 14,350 snacks to our students and their families. This school year we already have 185 students enrolled, and that number continues to grow. We currently provide meals to Park Hill Elementary, Roots Elementary, Smith Elementary, and the Vickers Boys and Girls Club.

Since June 5, our Free Farm Stand has distributed more than 3,400 pounds of fresh, healthy food. The bulk of that is provided through our partnership with Denver Food Rescue (DFR). Volunteers with DFR pick up leftover food from the City Park Esplanade Farmers Market and bring it to our office at 2823 Fairfax St. Volunteer board members receive the food, which we distribute to neighbors every Monday. We also receive donations from local gardeners and community gardens, which has resulted in another 400 pounds of donations. More than 100 neighbors have come by the Free Farm Stand and taken home delicious, free vegetables and fruits.

Sustaining the neighborhood

Another successful program we’ve been working hard on this year is the Sustainable Neighborhood Program. We joined the City and County of Denver’s program in August. We set a goal to reach “outstanding” status in our first year. This requires accumulating 100 credits based on the City’s formula.

OK, so here’s the news: Within two months we have already nearly reached that status. And we’re just getting started.

Since August, we have hosted our Free Farm Stand, Community Walks, Garden Workshops, and more. We have identified measurable goals to make a difference in our community, including reducing waste at our September Home Tour & Street Fair, reducing overall pesticide and fertilizer use, increasing enrollment in the Denver Energy Challenge and more. To learn more about our program, check out our website: greaterparkhill.org/sustainability.

Membership continues to be a solid foundation of support for GPHC and our many activities in the neighborhood. We currently have more than 450 members, including individuals, families, and businesses.

To become an even more inclusive organization we are developing a nonprofit level membership for faith communities, schools, and other nonprofits that are located in or operate in our community. If you are not a member, we hope you will join us as a supporter: greaterparkhill.org/get-involved/become-a-member/

Rocking the special events

The annual special events that we sponsor also performed very well.

Our Garden Walk took place on June 17. Almost 400 people attended and our amazing volunteers raised over $8,000.

The 4th of July Parade attracted 6,000 people in attendance—our largest year yet! Eight hundred people participated in the actual parade.

The Home Tour & Street Fair, which took place on Sept. 10, sold almost 1,000 tickets. About 3,000 people attended the Street Fair, where 94 vendor booths were filled by 89 vendors. All told, the Home Tour & Street Fair raised more than $33,000 to benefit GPHC.

Finally, our neighborhood-wide Yard Sale in May was a huge success. We had more folks involved than ever before. The one-day event included 88 individual yard sales. We had houses register until the very last minute. Thirty-seven yard sales indicated an interest in donating to GPHC from their proceeds. Twenty-one donations were ultimately made, totaling more than $500 in donations to benefit the Weekend Food Program.

Stars of the show

Our programs are fantastic and impactful, but the true stars of GPHC are our volunteers, who have selflessly dedicated thousands of hours of service to our organization and community.

Volunteers with our Food Pantry and Free Farm Stand have dedicated more than 800 regular volunteer hours, 176 Thanksgiving volunteer hours (in only seven days), and 60 volunteer hours from special opportunities like group volunteering and “parent-and-me” volunteer days.

Our Weekend Food Program volunteers donated over 680 volunteer hours, including 20-25 volunteer hours per week for regular volunteers. The lead lolunteer for our Weekend Food Program, Claudia Fields, has dedicated more than 250 hours of her time just as of this writing.

Hours and hours served

While our food programs rely on a lot of volunteer work, that’s not where the generosity stops.

Our newspaper volunteers have also been exceptional in 2017. In all, 338 blockworker volunteers have collectively logged 1,338 hours, and 12 monthly bundling volunteers have logged 126 hours.

If the paper you’re reading showed up at your door, then you can thank these amazing volunteers for their work. If it didn’t, think about joining our team of volunteers and deliver papers. It’s a 20-minute commitment per month and a great way to get to know your neighbors.

Another group of volunteers we couldn’t continue our work without is our board of directors. These elected district and at-large representatives and our executive committee have collectively donated more than 1,000 hours to GPHC through attending board and executive meetings, as well as other community meetings.

Our board members have also volunteered writing articles for this paper, letters to elected officials and others, conducting research, and engaging in other special initiatives. Board members have also been integral to our Free Farm Stand, as noted above. A group of board members and other interested neighbors have also been key in developing our sustainable neighborhood application and subsequent events.

All together, these volunteers have donated more than 280 hours.

Enough to make your head spin

Volunteers with our special events also contributed a remarkable amount of time. The Garden Walk co-chairs, Helen Quinn and Barbara Armendariz, contributed more than 200 hours. The committee also donated 200 hours and day-of volunteers donated an additional 100 hours.

Our 4th of July Parade chair, Justin Bresler, put in more than 100 hours to make it happen. Volunteers working the actual parade donated another 230 hours of time. The Home Tour & Street Fair committee and day of volunteers donated a total of 600 hours. Additionally, the Home Tour Chair and Street Fair Chair, Lana Cordes and Rob Barber respectively, each donated over 100 hours to organizing this event.

Altogether, the total donated equals almost 7,000 hours—an invaluable contribution to GPHC and our neighborhood.

We are so grateful for each and every volunteer who has made 2017 such an incredible year. Personally, I would like to thank each of you for making my job easier, helping me learn about our exceptional programs – and being a source of joy and inspiration every day.

Sierra Fleenor is the executive director of Greater Park Hill Community, Inc., a Registered Neighborhood Organization. She can be reached at info@greaterparkhill.org or at 303-388-0918. Editor’s note: Check out the December issue of the newspaper for more on new and returning board members, and their goals for next year.


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