The Georgia Recreation and Park Association recently recognized the Sandy Springs Recreation and Parks Department’s community partner Friends of Lost Corner as a winner of the 2017 Volunteer of the Year. The Friends group is a nonprofit created in conjunction with the city to preserve and improve the passive use of the Lost Corner Preserve and facility for residents to enjoy. The Friends group provides stewardship to this historically relevant and unique 24-acre piece of property through funding, community involvement, volunteers and support.
Lost Corner is a Sandy Springs city park that serves 105,000 residents, and the Friends group is a positive emissary working with both the community and the city to create a sense of goodwill surrounding the preserve. The Friends group supports the recreation and parks department by providing extra manpower and budgetary income in the following areas: helping to maintain the cottage and grounds, supplementing recreational programs, fundraising to supplement physical improvements, boosting communication outreach, enhancing educational programming (for example: partnering with the city to create an elementary school field trip program corresponding to the Common Core curriculum that hosted field trips for more than 400 first-graders) and overall community outreach.
Mayor Rusty Paul, a third-generation beekeeper who installed the preserve’s apiary, knows first-hand the important role the Friends group plays in the city.
“The passion and commitment our community members have when taking on a cause or project is tremendous,” he said in a news release. “They make things happen, and their sense of ownership and caring comes through, creating a positive connection between city, organization and the community at large. I have tremendous gratitude for the efforts of Friends of Lost Corner in first bring the opportunity for this new park, and in their ongoing efforts to maintain and bring programming benefitting the entire community.”
The Friends group spearheads activities ranging from hosting park cleanup days, invasive eradication, fundraising for park improvement projects, hosting Friends-sponsored recreation programs to supplement what the city offers, managing the community garden, advertising recreation programs and park services (website, electronic newsletters and social media and more). The Friends group board is set up to provide support to the park with master gardeners, water-quality experts, wildlife proponents, grant writers, educators and historians.