Kiwanis Club Plants Trees for Kids at Local Park
The newly remodeled and improved Grant Park in Waukee had almost all the elements and amenities of a perfect park—a soccer field and a half-court basketball area ready for friendly competition, picnic tables for snacks, walking paths and even restrooms alongside the new playground. The only thing missing from the 1.5-acre plot was a few big trees to provide shade on hot summer days. Unfortunately, trees don’t just magically appear in places like this. They need community champions to strategically coordinate and plant them. This is where the Kiwanis Club of Waukee saw a service opportunity.
Playtime at the Park
Nancy Cullen, currently serving as secretary of Kiwanis Club of Waukee, would often take her granddaughter to Ridge Pointe Park in her neighborhood. The 21-acre park is an oasis for children and adults alike with not just one, but two playgrounds, a sand volleyball court, pavilion, and even a “Little Free Library” for book sharing with other park visitors.
As she played with her granddaughter, she noticed the lack of shade trees over the playgrounds. “Children need to be protected from the sun,” said Cullen. “Since our club is dedicated to helping children, we thought of the tree planting idea.”
It was a natural fit, given that the club’s website states, “In Waukee, we have the wonderful opportunity to not only help the children of the world, but more importantly, we can focus our efforts in our own backyard through our service and fundraising efforts.” The club literally decided to dedicate a service project to growing their “backyard!”
After the initial idea, the club reached out to the Waukee Parks and Recreation Department for assistance in selecting the park that was most in need of shade for its playground area, and they decided on Grant Park.
The club then worked with the experts at Earl May to select the trees to be planted.
“We chose two maples because they grow quickly, a pin oak for its beautiful leaves and tallness, and a flowering tree that will also provide some shade,” said Cullen. Earl May did the actual planting of the new trees, explained Cullen.
Abel Shaw, president of Kiwanis Club of Waukee, said the decision to plant trees at a park was the largest financial commitment to any project they have done so far.
Plant the Seed of Inspiration
One unintended consequence of the Kiwanis tree planting project was the inspiration and example it set for other organizations looking to give back to the community.
“Other organizations have planted trees as well,” Cullen shared. “I hope more will join in, not only in playground areas but throughout our community, to help provide shade for children and to add to the beauty of Waukee.”
Cullen added that the club has already voted to plant additional trees in the future.
While the tree planting project was in the works, another club member, Laura Pleasance, and her husband planted trees—and added new playground equipment—at Ridge Pointe Park, in memory of their son.
Tree planting was by no means the first service project the club has undertaken since its beginning in September 2013 as a chapter of Kiwanis International.
“A past project that we are very proud of involves an opportunity for our local WIC program,” explained Shaw. “We provide a library for parents involved in this program. Currently, this library has over 1,500 children’s books that they can take home and keep. Our goal was to enrich their children’s lives through literacy by making sure that they have this access.”
Shaw said the club plans more involvement with the schools in Waukee in the future.
“Kiwanis offers clubs for school-age kids as well, with Key Club being the largest. Clubs like these give kids an opportunity to learn leadership skills through service,” said Shaw.
The Club’s service projects typically come about by members reaching out to the community to uncover its greatest needs.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Shaw said the club is young and growing, and they’re now accepting new members.
The Kiwanis Club of Waukee currently has 12 members and meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. inside the wine tasting meeting room at the Waukee Hy-Vee. Kiwanis International, as a whole, has close to nearly 600,000 members and raises hundreds of millions of dollars and dedicates millions of volunteer hours toward initiatives that specifically serve chapter communities and children. For more information, visit the club’s website at http://waukeekiwanis.org or search Facebook for Kiwanis Waukee.