Southern Gables Neighborhood Association: 2022 Recap
Whew! Remember way back, when the end of 2020 was such a relief? We thought that pandemic thing was almost finished. Then we thought the same thing again at the end of 2021. Going into 2022 we were aching for a full return to “normal.” (Remember normal? We don’t either.) All things considered, in 2022 the Neighborhood Association had a near-normal, busy and productive year. Let’s take a look at how that came about.
In January the Association Board started working to revive our Local Business Supporters program, which was comatose in 2020 and barely breathing during 2021, with so many of our valued business supporters hurting, damaged, and some even closed. Local business supporters participate in our Tote Bag distribution, promotion on our website and social media, and can have booths at Neighborhood Night Out.
During the winter months we started contacting our local business partners, gathered information and prepared articles for the spring newsletter, and started planning for the Tote Bag program. Our Green Gables Girl Scout troop proposed a project to prepare and distribute a safety flyer, and we had it put together with the newsletter. The girls helped with the delivery, covering part of our 1,000 homes. Soon after the newsletters went out, our local Boy Scouts took on the job of assembling and delivering the Tote Bags to all those homes. It’s so great to have our young people involved in these projects, making for long-term growth of community spirit and cooperation.
The project of getting a walking track built on the campus of Green Gables Elementary, for which the Association had proposed and received a grant in early 2021, stalled out due to huge increases in building materials. The benefit of getting it done would be to make up for the fact that we don’t have a park in the neighborhood. The delay was frustrating, but Doug Whitten kept quietly working in the background to find solutions. In another improvement project, the residents along a stretch of Evans Avenue had petitioned the City for speed bumps to be installed. The way it works is that if a certain percentage of the affected residents sign the petition and Traffic Management concurs, the City pays half of the cost and the residents pay the other half. They asked for the Association to chip in half of the residents’ half. The request was voted on and approved, carrying out the wishes of our neighbors.
In the spring we started planning for our two summer programs: encouraging and sponsoring individual block parties, and then our big annual Neighborhood Night Out. The block party sponsorship idea started in 2021 when it looked like COVID would prevent us from having the Night Out, then at the last minute we got the go-ahead to use the school property. We went ahead with both ideas, and the block parties proved popular and successful, bringing neighbors together and making new people feel welcome. We like to do that.
In May at the annual business meeting of the Association, Mayor Paul and City Council Representatives Mary Janssen and Wendi Strom spoke on current City issues and status of ongoing programs, and fielded questions. The fiscal year Treasurer’s Report and a summary audit report were presented. The new Board officer and director nominees were announced and voted in. A notable change was with outgoing president Doug Whitten, who was recognized for having served in that position for eight years. Although he declined a petition to accept the position of President for Life 😉 he did agree to stay on the Board as a consulting Director. We met the new Green Gables Elementary Principal, Jennifer Withee, and she told of having lived down the block as a child, and starting kindergarten in the room next to where we were meeting.
The June Board meeting covered details for block party stipends, raffle prize budget for monthly luncheons, and extensive Neighborhood Night Out details and assignments. The shopping lists, volunteer recruitment, and other behind-the-scene coordinating tasks are huge. With over 700 neighbors attending, it is so gratifying when it all works out and we all have a good time.
The block parties took place in July and early August, and then our big Night Out was on August 26. We chose that date, as we have each year, because it is soon after the school year starts so families are back from vacation. It makes a fine “end-of-summer” social occasion for the neighborhood. With 700 people in attendance, the businesses and organizations that had booths and concessions had lively traffic, the DJ kept things going with music and fun interviews, and six lucky winners turned in their free raffle tickets for a $50 gift card win. The free hot dogs and lemonade were popular as always, paired up perfectly with Magill’s Ice Cream for a nutritional win-win. (Well, many of the kids and former kids thought so.)
In September we supported the Carmody Middle School Chili Cook-Off, did a critique and lessons-learned session on the Night Out, and made assignments for getting out the fall newsletter. We nominated Joy’s Kitchen, the food pantry located in Southern Gables, for the Lakewood Mayor’s Inspiration Award, and attended the award ceremony on behalf of the neighborhood. Planning for Leaf Collection Day in November started last year with discussion of how to keep it from getting out of hand again, with people drawn by word-of-mouth publicity and coming from far away. It was addressed at just about every Board meeting and we gradually came to the solution of making it neighborhood-only, others pay a fee. Even with a snow day throwing things off this year, neighbors pitched in to get it all done. Community spirit!
At the December Board meeting we discussed resuming the practice of having a neighborhood garage sale weekend. We used to do that but interest died off even before the pandemic; still, several neighbors have asked if we would do it again. We will try it, on a Friday-Saturday in April or May. We also saw a big step forward in the Walking Track project, with the construction actually getting started a few weeks ago. Completion will have to wait until the weather warms, but the foundation is literally set in. We also accepted nominations and awarded our year-end donations. It is a central aspect of our charter to support local organizations that benefit our community. Recipients were as follows (amounts are recorded in the meeting minutes). Westwoods Community Church for community support programs, Lakewood Police Toy Fund, Green Gables Elementary School Community Support, Cub Scout Pack 419, Denver Christian School and Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms both for Leaf Day support, and Joy’s Kitchen. Earlier in the year we donated to Carmody Middle School for their Chili Cook-off fundraiser, and we conducted a Chipotle fundraiser for Green Gables Elementary.
It was a good year for Southern Gables. We love our neighborhood, and look forward to fostering an even higher level of community spirit in 2023.
For full detail and transparency, the meeting minutes and reports of the Association can be found here: SGNA Records. We encourage neighbors to get involved and join us, actively working for a better community. If you are not a member of the Association, you can join by paying dues of $20 a year. That step is a step toward supporting a better community for all of us.
Another note of appreciation came from Rutger Myers, the soil health technician at Chatfield Farms who helped so greatly with our Leaf Day project in November.
I came back to work today to an incredibly kind and generous gift from you. Thank you so much!
I built this compost program from the ground up. It is a personal passion project of mine, which I have spent four years building: first as a volunteer, then as a seasonal farmer and now as Soil Health Technician. Two years ago, this program was just me and a pitchfork. Last year, we diverted 85 tons of organic matter from the landfill and produced 190 cubic yards of finished compost. It’s hard for even me top wrap my head around these numbers. I’ve been able to grow this program rapidly because of the kind of support you have provided. Thank you. I am so grateful.
Your gift will go directly to my compost program, significantly improving my budget. I will first put funding toward a Colorado School of Mines Senior Design project, which has been working to improve the irrigation system in the compost site. I will then put funding toward an ATV landscape rake attachment. This will greatly improve the efficiency of compost spreading next year.
Thank you so much for everything. We’ve already started using your neighborhood’s leaves as a mulch for next year’s garlic crop as well as our active compost piles.
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. Have a great 2023!
We received a nice thank-you note from Green Gables Elementary, drawn by a student and signed by staff members. “Thank you for supporting our Giving Tree Program. We truly appreciate your generosity which allows us to help Green Gables families with gifts including clothing, toys, and groceries. We could not run this program without wonderful people like you! We wish you and your family a safe and joyful holiday season.” Principal Withee added a note, “Your generosity is remarkable! Thank you!” and Jennifer Selz wrote, “Thank you so much for your generous donations and Ongoing support that make this program possible! We Couldn’t do it without your help! Merry Christmas!”