Restoring a park allows an Oregon Key Club to hone key leadership skills.
Story by John Simmons
The idea for the Marshfield High School Key Club’s biggest project to date began to take shape more than two years ago, when students from the Coos Bay, Oregon, club took a walk to the South 10th Street Park. They found a run-down, weed-infested area with rusted-out playground equipment, a cracked basketball court (with no hoop), no benches and no lighting.
“There was absolutely no reason that anyone would want to play in this park,” says Stacy Gulseth, Marshfield Key Club advisor.
Quite simply, the park needed a makeover, and so the Key Club decided to adopt it.
“I think we showed a lot of leadership in stepping up to the plate,” says Key Clubber Andrew Sheerin.
In November 2016, club members presented a proposal to the Coos Bay Parks Department manager, the Parks Commission Board and, finally, to Coos Bay City Council members, who approved the project four months later. A budget drawn up by the city estimated that it would cost nearly US$100,000 to restore the park. Key Club members pledged to raise $52,000 of those funds.
They worked hard to receive grants and sponsorships. And then there were the fundraisers: car washes, raffles, garage sales, working school concessions, delivering candy canes and Valentine’s Day grams and hosting a Parents Night Out. At the latter, members entertained kids from pre-K to fifth grade with games, crafts and a movie so parents could enjoy a fun night out on the town.
And of course, there was Flamingo Flocking, or as Gulseth calls it, “the best fundraiser ever.”
“We place pink plastic flamingos outside a ‘victim’s’ home or business with a note that they’ve been ‘flocked’ for a good cause,” she explains. “For US$10, a flamingo wrangler will remove the flamingos. You can also buy flamingo insurance, where $15 will keep you flamingo-free for six months and $25 will protect you for a year. The community’s response to Flamingo Flocking has been overwhelmingly positive, and their donations have been very generous.”
On May 18, the club participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new Marshfield Key Club Pirate Park.
“My grandma used to bring me here, and I used to play in that park, so it was exciting for me to play a part in fixing it up,” says former club member Hayden Brick.
Adds member Kyah Brueckner, “We do a lot of community service work, but this was a big project. I think we were a good role model.”
“The park helped them build self-esteem and develop new skills within themselves. I think we all learned a valuable lesson: that taking on more than you think you can do — and then achieving that goal — can sometimes be a good thing.”
This story originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Kiwanis magazine.