MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

September 22, 2013

Neighborhood picnics deemed a success

Goal is to foster communication among residents, with city officials

Antonio Masters said he thought the final Neighbors Building Neighborhoods picnic was a nice thing for his neighborhood.

“There’s not a lot for kids to do around here in the evening,” Masters said. “It helps us get to know each other and they’ve done a good job of setting everything up; it’s really easy for me to get the information I need.”

That’s the goal, said Kim Lynch, the executive director of the Muskogee Nonprofit Resource Center.

“We’ve had an incredible response to these,” Lynch said. “We’ve seen between 200 to 300 people at each one, and I think people will look forward to coming again next year.”

The center is busy planning picnics for 2014, she said.

The picnics are intended to encourage more communication between residents and city officials, she said.

“Our purpose is twofold,” she said. “The first thing we want is to connect neighbors with each other. The second is we wanted to inform people about codes and city ordinances as well as meet the people who help enforce those. We’ve worked hand in hand with the Parks Department on all of the events to make sure they are family friendly.”

Masters, a 40-year resident of Muskogee, was joined by 300 others at Elliott Park on Thursday evening for the last of six picnics put on by the Nonprofit Resource Center at local parks.

The picnics offered information as well as free food. Visitors were able to browse  booths set up by the Muskogee Fire Department, Health Department, Planning Department and many other agencies.

One of the instrumental coordinators in the picnics has been Talese Bess, a Volunteers in Service to America member who works with the Neighbors Building Neighborhoods program to facilitate community involvement.

Bess said the opportunity worked hand in hand with her plans to become an entrepreneur.

“The experience I’ve gained building relationships has been invaluable to me,” she said. “I work closely with the community and with businesses in the community. We have so many people to thank for making these picnics possible, a lot of churches donated things, and there were many volunteers who helped us.”

Throughout the summer almost 1,800 people have been exposed to the renovation to city parks and the information they need to keep their neighborhoods clean and safe while their children played on splash pads and firetrucks. Lynch said that was what it was all about.

“The kids are playing, and the adults are being educated,” she said. “The city is on board for next year, and we already have four events scheduled. If anyone wants to volunteer, they can call me or the Nonprofit Resource Center.”

Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or tsloat@muskogeephoenix.com.

You can help

To volunteer to help with the 2014 Neighbors Building Neighborhoods picnics at local parks, call Kim Lynch at (918) 683-4600.

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