Groups Seeks Resident Input For New Programs

September 28, 2009

Wednesday is the kickoff meeting for a reworked group that hopes to organize West U residents to help generate ideas for new community programs.

The West University Friends and Neighbors Guild, a rejuvenated version of the Friends Guild, also plans to provide social activities for members, organize volunteers for city events and possibly attract donors for parks projects. The kickoff meeting is Sept. 30 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at 4230 Judson Ave.

Guild Chair Adrienne Vanderbloemen said 40 residents have already RSVPed for the meeting, which is open for anyone living in West U. City officials expect a big response.

“This is an exciting new reinvention of the Friends Guild, and I think it will explode,” said Donna LaMond, executive director of Friends of West University Place Parks. “We may be opening a can of worms with this, but it’s a good can.”

The new Friends and Neighbors Guild is a partnership between the Friends of West U Parks and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The old Friends Guild hosted four coffee meetings per year, and organized members to volunteer for city events. Changes began when some members indicated they wanted a greater role in the community, Vanderbloemen said.

The idea for the new guild was born from brainstorming sessions that Vanderbloemen organized over the summer. The team first thought about bringing back play group activities that a former group called Newcomers and Neighbors had offered. But they soon thought about also creating groups for bunko, tennis and books.

Besides these social activities, the main focus of the West U Friends and Neighbors Guild will be for members to generate ideas for new recreation programs.

“What do you need in this community that you are not getting?” LaMond asked. For example, if residents are currently driving out of West U to take a child to ballet class, the city wants to know what it must do to offer its own classes, whether it be hiring a certain teacher, or scheduling classes at specific times.

The meeting on Wednesday will serve as a brainstorming session so city leaders can discover what residents are most interested in.

“Please come and tell us what you want to see,” Vanderbloemen said.

After gathering feedback, the guild must still determine how to structure and implement new programs. While some ideas like bunko groups may be simple social events hosted at members’ homes, other programs may need organization or funding from the city.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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