More than 3,100 acres within the city's 50 square miles are developed for recreation. That includes 170 parks. Maintaining it can be expensive.
Thirty-five years ago, a group of passionate residents started an organization called Partners of Parks (PoP), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, public benefit corporation with a goal to support and preserve Long Beach parks. Since then, this organization has been helping the city meet the financial needs of Long Beach parks, which continue to grow.
According to Executive Director Trinka Rowsell, “Partners of Parks’ full mission is to support the city of Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine (PRM) programs by managing strategic partnerships and seeking development opportunities that support PRM activities especially benefiting Long Beach teens, seniors, and economically disadvantaged children.”
The group helps pay for memorials, like the Lone Sailor Memorial that was added to Bluff Park in 2004. According to Captain Braden Phillips, a U.S. Navy veteran and a Lone Sailor Memorial donor, “Over the years Partners on Parks has provided continuity for the Lone Sailor Memorial Plaza. They have made sure the site was maintained, and have administrated the brick selling and ordering process. They were pro-active regarding lighting the area, providing park benches, and community focused ceremonies.”
The organization also offers dedicated benches and memorial bricks to honor individuals around the city.
PoP does not receive any direct government funding and is governed by a board of 11 community members who volunteer their time.
PoP Board chairman Ron Antonette explained, "The city provides an incredible slate of fee-based recreation classes and camps, but they are prohibited from funding the participant fees for families in need. That's where Partners of Parks steps in by partnering with the community, with corporations and other underwriters to assist families to pay for classes and camps, as well as seeking out funding to underwrite other recreation opportunities. The reality is that programming is the first thing that gets cut from the city's park budget, and so we exist as a means to help source funding some of those important programs."
Partners of Parks also support programming, activities and neighborhood groups who fund events in Long Beach parks. The nonprofit also acts as the fiscal agent to more than 20 community groups whose purposes are related to Parks, Recreation, or Marine programming in Long Beach.
Long Beach Gray Panthers secretary Karen Reside said “Partner of Parks provides great service for a very reasonable fee. It is reassuring to potential funders that oversight is led by a professionally run organization.”
Program support includes recreation classes and camps including swimming lessons, Animal Care Services and the Nature Center.
With caring community members continuing to donate dollars to ensure park access to everyone in the community, Partners of Parks hosts fund-raising events, outreaches to community members for support and solicits sponsorships. PoP staffs information tables at events and community activities to raise community awareness of its mission.
To make a donation or learn more about Partners of Parks, go to www.partnersofparks.org.