I prefer to sat Twenty-Twenty-WON! We are bound and determined to WIN this year. The last year has been hard on everyone and that includes the park. We stepped back about 4 years as fr as the financials go and that says a lot.
I arrived here on March 16th, 2016 and the date rings strong for me in many ways. March is a tumultuous month for weather and the park's financial condition reflected that state. I am not being coy when I say the park was certainly in jeopardy of closing at that time. We were staggering payments for oil and electricity to get through that winter. Much of the condition, if you recall, was fading and it wasn't because the park didn't want to, but couldn't. They had fought back and breathed life back into the museum with so much sweat equity of the "Friends of Harrybrooke" who were a group of dedicated volunteers. The money raised from that was truly collective of that group who all contributed personally. It was the foundation of what would begin when I arrived. Had it not been for those Friends, we likely would have closed the gates before I had even arrived.
Also the date of 3/16 reflects me to 3:16. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." The piece that grabs me is "eternal life." I believe it's our job as a generation, to care for Harrybrooke Park. To preserve this park for the next generation and they for the following and so on.
While Frank Harden tried to prepare his former estate to live on as a park for all to enjoy, the financial times of 1965 and for 2021 are far different. Now we must have our events and fundraise in order to make the dream continue.
Now 2020 didn't beat us, but it beat us up, that's for sure. We intend to bounce back and allow a place for your children and grandchildren to learn to ride their bikes, for family picnics and for exploring the river trail and learning about nature.
I al so very proud of the work over the last (almost) five years here. We have collected about 10,000 hours/year, EACH year, in volunteer hours. We have created events that have made us all laugh and workouts to better ourselves. We have been inclusive of other nonprofits and helped them collectively.
Harrybrooke is again a part of the community as intended in Frank Harden's Will. If you grew up here, you likely have a story or two about Harrybrooke. It has changed and not changed. It is the same as when I was a kid and so much more now.
In the next 361 days, I hope you will come by for a walk, an event, and if you're lucky, even a wedding. We are fighting every single day to remain open for your enjoyment. For fresh air and exercise. For your children and grandchildren. For those struggling with life's concerns. we are here as a refuge from "real life." Most importantly, we are here for you because you have allowed that to happen with attending events or making donations.
Harrybrooke is the PEOPLE'S PARK and it remains so because of such an outstanding community of people. We are forever grateful and hope to show you that among the 48 acres here.
Happy New Year.
The blogs are written by our park Executive Director, Billy Buckbee. Some call him Mo but he's the guy with the beard you see around the park.