While riding his bike down the City’s MLK Equality Trail last year, resident Aaron Dimick noticed a lot of litter. “Instead of figuring out who I could complain to, I started thinking about long term solutions to help the problem,” Dimick said. He reached out to the Parks and Recreation Department and started conversations with Assistant Director Andrew Sargeant. “We came up with solutions for how residents could work with the City to improve parks, and People for the Parks and Trails was born,” Sargeant said.
In summer and fall 2021, People for the Parks and
Trails (PPT) held seven volunteer projects. Five City parks and two trails got some much needed attention, and a total of 34 Jackson residents came out to volunteer. Volunteer projects included spreading mulch in playgrounds, cleaning up litter, trimming brush, clearing out gardens and removing graffiti. During the holiday season, volunteers put up lights in parks to spread holiday cheer to neighborhoods. Dimick, who is organizing PPT outside his work as the City’s Public Information Officer, says park and trail access is a big contributor to Jackson’s quality of life. “I think our parks and trails are in excellent shape. This group is dedicated to making them even better for the entire community,” Dimick said.
PPT says it’s important to know that volunteers are not taking the place of City staff. “These efforts have been a big help to our department. Volunteers do projects that our limited staff don’t always have the time to get to. It also adds a sense of ownership and care for our parks that’s encouraging to see,” Sargeant said. PPT is gearing up for its 2022 volunteer season, which began in April and will go through the end of Oct. “The City has 28 public parks and a growing trail system, so it’s important that we do volunteer projects in every area of the City,” Dimick said.
The group is also organizing into a formal non-profit organization. “This will help us with fundraising efforts for park improvements, along with making sure we can be a community mainstay for years to come,” Dimick said. If you’d like to get involved, visit their website, peoplefortheparks.org and fill out an interest form. “From there, you will get updates on volunteer opportunities. You do not need to be a City resident to volunteer, we welcome anyone who wants to make a difference in their local parks,” Dimick said. People for the Parks and Trails is also active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.