The Central Blair Recreation & Park Commission is recruiting members for a newly created fundraising committee, which it hopes will help its maxed-out staff continue to expand the commission's role in the community without the need for more public money.
"We want to get five to seven individuals who really want to get involved helping us better our parks and programs, to keep fees low and [to help us] really do what our mission says," said Executive Director Mike Hofer. "Utilizing fundraisers and grants, and not relying on tax dollars as much to progress."
The staff is doing about as much as it can already, he said.
"[It will] ease the burden for the folks working at the commission," said Commissioner Joe Metzgar. "They spend a lot of time going out soliciting money."
The committee may eventually take charge of annual events like the Easter egg hunt, the golf tournament and the annual dinner.
If the commission approves a slate of applicants for the committee, the committee members "could get their feet wet" with this year's Easter event, Hofer said.
He's hoping it could double the August golf tournament's earnings to $20,000.
Maybe it could create another event, he said.
"We're not going to progress as a commission unless we do that kind of stuff," he said.
The commission could also help fortify the "scholarship fund" that helps pay program costs for kids whose families can't afford the activity fees.
And it would help "keep new parks popping up," he said. "And program costs down."
While fundraising will be the main function of the committee, its members won't be "beating on people's doors every day of the week," Metzgar said.
"No hoagie sales or [raffle] tickets," he said.
But there will probably be efforts directed to specific communities for projects of special interest, he said.
If the commission needs to make improvements to Veterans Field, those with an interest in baseball
would be a natural target, he said.
Hofer got the idea for the committee from the success of the Booker T. Washington Revitalization Corp., which helped renovate an outdoor basketball court and develop a playground setup and a passive park with exercise equipment on a corner in Fifth Ward within the last few years.
"That group works," he said.
He said he'd like the same kind of people - passionate about rebuilding community parks - to be on the fundraising committee, although he's not sure he wants the same people, for fear of burning them out.
It would also be good to get new people with new ideas, he said.
He'd like the new committee to be well-rounded, with representation from business people, nonprofit executives familiar with fundraising, parents of young children who use commission programs and retirees whose kids have passed through those programs.
"Different walks of life, different views," he said. "That's why the Booker T. Washington group was so successful."
Two potential members have applied, and a third was thinking about it, Hofer said recently.
"I know this will work as long as we get the right people," Hofer said.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.