By Jackie DeThorne
Recently, I was asked two questions about volunteering and donating. “Why do you volunteer/donate and why do you support the Lincoln Park Conservancy specifically?” My initial thoughts were it’s good for the city and it’s good for me, but then I thought on…
VOLUNTEER TO SHARE: An LPC volunteer serves as an informal ambassador of Chicago and Lincoln Park. Guests come from around the world and can’t believe the green space we have right here in the third largest city in the country! And not only is the park lovely, it is full of stories and history that are interesting to our guests.
VOLUNTEER TO LEARN: The gardens and park grounds change regularly, even within each season. Learning a new plant/tree/grass/flower/historic fact each volunteer shift is interesting. And the questions people come up with are fascinating new ways of looking at the Park! Volunteers also continue to learn from each other when working side by side.
VOLUNTEER TO GIVE BACK: The Park has been good to many of us and our loved ones. Why not give back through the LPC volunteer program? As a non-profit, the LPC gives volunteers opportunities to contribute in many ways. Is writing your talent? Prepare training materials. Is art your skill? Update our signage. How about fundraising? Your ideas can improve our current revenue streams or add a new one. Children your forte? Develop a kids’ tour or scavenger hunt. The possibilities are endless!
VOLUNTEER TO SPUR HEALTH: Nature has a proven record helping people with stress reduction, exercise, and perspective. So does being grateful for what we have and the people who cross our paths. Time as a volunteer in the Park is a reward to both the body and the mind. It also helps reach a 5,000 steps/day goal!
VOLUNTEER TO ENJOY: There are so many special places in the Park that are all fabulous! From morning yoga in the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool to wandering the LP Conservatory in the winter. From quiet contemplation strolling the North Pond Nature Sanctuary, to squeals of delight at the Sunshine Playscape, there is something for everyone.
Why give to the Lincoln Park Conservancy (LPC)?
LPC SUPPORTS THE PARK: The mission of the LPC is to preserve, protect and enhance the Chicago gem called Lincoln Park. Even though the Chicago Park District owns all of the Park, a portion of the maintenance and majority of the volunteer activity is the responsibility of the non-profit LPC.
LPC IS A SMALL ORGANIZATION IN A BIG CITY: There are so many causes asking for our hard-earned dollars, it is helpful to choose those which embrace your own values and priorities. The biggest financial gifts given in Chicago (published annually) are usually to for-profit medical and higher education institutions with multiple revenue streams. The LPC is a non-profit. Its only sources of revenue are its annual gala and donations/gifts. That’s it. Statistics show that the percent of spending by the private sector for Chicago parks has been declining, the public sector remains flat, and the difference has been, for the short-term, picked up by volunteer hours.
LPC USES ITS MONEY WISELY: LPC has an important role keeping this Park—so green and full of nature, art, activity, learning and play—free, vibrant and healthy. Volunteers do a lot for the LPC, but paid staff and all the materials required to do its job require money. Your gift to the non-profit LPC is likely to have a big impact on operations and projects. You will actually see your money working, not attached to a building.
LPC SUPPORTS CHICAGO HISTORY. The Chicago Park District once had five glass houses (conservatories) and gardens around the city sharing the joy of plants from around the world. Only two of those original buildings remain and one is the Lincoln Park Conservatory (built between 1890 and 1895). This is history still standing at 131 years old! The historic Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool (built 1938) is a National Historic Landmark and is managed by the LPC. The LPC was the leader in its restoration in 2002.
LPC SUPPORTS CHICAGO CITIZENS AND TOURISTS. Though perhaps less famous than NYC’s Central Park, Lincoln Park is 27% larger! Chicago’s largest and most visited park continuously ranks high on lists of the best urban parks in the US. It also remains FREE, a great value in today’s world.