“Friend of the Parks” Drive Supports Families in Need

October 3, 2020

10/14/20 – The Parks Foundation of Highland Park is offering new rewards this Fall to those who help fellow community members participate in Park District programs. The “Friend of the Parks” drive supports scholarships that allow Highland Park and Highwood families with financial constraints to enroll in athletics, camps, creative classes, and nature programs. For a limited time, supporters can receive complimentary admission to a variety of Park District facilities.

Studies show that recreational activities are critical to physical, mental, and emotional well-being in these challenging times. Yet, the Foundation recognizes that thousands of community members are now prevented from taking part in Park District programs due to economic difficulties. Even before the pandemic, 17% of Highwood residents and 6.5% of Highland Park residents lived below the poverty level. Since March, more than half of U.S. households have suffered a loss of employment income. The Friend of the Parks campaign aims to ensure that all can enjoy an enriched, healthy lifestyle.

“The Park District of Highland Park is doing a fantastic job giving residents ways to safely stay fit and active through the pandemic,” noted Foundation Board President Bob Bernstein. “We’re committed to helping all community members access its great programs and facilities. We hope everyone will consider becoming a Friend of the Parks and join us in our mission to make sure no one is left behind.”

Since 2016, the Foundation has helped bring the community together through events such as the Champion’s Banquet honoring young athletes and coaches, the Firecracker 5K Independence Day run, and the recent Bike the Parks event that provided free maps to safely guide hundreds of cyclists through ten of Highland Park’s 44 parks. 

Donations to the organization have supported over $150,000 in scholarships annually through its SMILE Grant-in-Aid program and Highwood-inclusive Foundation Youth Initiative. The Foundation also recently funded the new Youth Golf Development and Short Game Center at Sunset Valley Golf Club to introduce young golfers to the game.

Donors who give $100 or more before December 31st will receive Friend of the Parks Passports valued at up to $100. Passport benefits include a round of Mini-Golf at River’s Edge Adventure Golf, swimming at Hidden Creek Aqua Park, skating at Centennial Ice Arena, a bucket of balls at Highland Park Golf Learning Center, cross-country skiing at Heller Nature Center, and more. Contributions in any amount will help provide Park District access to lower-income families. 

The Parks Foundation of Highland Park is dedicated to the belief that every resident deserves the opportunity for an enriched, healthy lifestyle. The Foundation supports and enhances the Park District of Highland Park’s exceptional facilities and provides resources to ensure that all community members are able to participate in Park District programs. The Parks Foundation of Highland Park is an independent, community-led, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. For more information, visit https://www.pfhpil.org