For the past seven years, a local organization has worked behind the scenes to improve Wyoming’s ability to offer family recreation opportunities as demand for ever-more creative recreation options has grown. You may not be familiar with the Wyoming Recreation Foundation, but its role in the city is becoming an increasingly important part of everyday life.
Created as a means to fill funding gaps, the Recreation Foundation was initially intended to support local businesses through access to liquor permits for unique events prior to the city’s Designated Outdoor Recreation Area (DORA). Today, the group has expanded its mission to improve residents’ access to quality recreation and social offerings. The foundation is behind the efforts to build the new Village Green Project and organize the Wyoming Kindness Connection, among many other projects. It helps bridge the gap between the city’s tax-funded recreation budget and the list of desired amenities and events residents want to see.
Founded in 2013 as a 501(c)(3) fundraising and planning entity, the Recreation Foundation has worked to secure and invest private resources to enhance recreation and social programming in the city for the benefit of Wyoming residents and those who live nearby in the surrounding Mill Creek Valley. The foundation supports health and wellness, local businesses, regional development, diversity and inclusion, the arts, and sustainability education to help maintain a thriving ecosystem around the city of Wyoming and support its Master Plan initiatives. It is overseen by a board made up of local residents, city council members and staff.
“This is really another tool to enable the city to accomplish projects that otherwise might not be within reach,” says board member and attorney Chip Skidmore. “It can help the city achieve its growth and development goals using the resources of the community.”
Much like the Wyoming School Foundation has supported projects within the schools to enhance learning opportunities, the Recreation Foundation will do the same for recreation and social enhancement within the city, notes Skidmore.
In addition to the board members, several staff members work to fulfill the foundation’s mission. Monica Tuck has branded, developed and managed the foundation over the past two years. Using a grant from Wyoming Youth Services, the foundation added Shannon Hautman this summer to run the Kindness Connection, which utilizes volunteer leaders to offer virtual learning and social opportunities to reach residents stuck at home during the COVID-19 restrictions. University of Cincinnati intern Weston Floro-Hageman works on economic development and planning.
Several projects underway now include the Village Green fundraising effort, which has so far raised $216,000 toward a goal of $336,000; Shop Wyoming, which promotes local businesses with events and marketing support, and Kindness Connection, which supports virtual classes and events to bring people together in this time of social distancing. The foundation has also launched Forward Wyoming, an endowment to support the city’s long-term growth and development goals with private donations, which is holding a virtual financial planning event Sept. 10 at 7 p.m., details and RSVP here.
“This type of resource can help us keep up with community trends for active lifestyles close to home that are so important to people these days,” says Monica Tuck of the foundation. “The ability to establish ourselves as a destination for entertainment, shopping and dining is an essential benefit of the Recreation Foundation. Recreation is often one of the first items to be cut if budgets are tight, but a source of additional funding can help overcome that and strengthen what we offer to the community.”
For more information about the Wyoming Recreation Foundation and its projects and mission, go to wyomingrecreationfoundation.org/.