Last month, the Laureate Park Neighborhood Watch Area Coordinators talked about the importance of getting to know your neighbors. This month, we thought we would share with you some things Laureate Park has done to promote this objective:
Critical to bonding our community together has been the private Laureate Park (LP) Facebook page. We acknowledge upfront that our FB page, like most, is not without an occasional thread that goes sideways. The good news is there is always a calming voice that steps in to bring things down a notch or two.
We strongly recommend neighborhood groups consider starting their own FB pages. The LP FB page is not associated in any way with the HOA or Tavistock (developer). It was started a little more than four years ago by Spencer Phelps, a resident of LP. It is a private page that Spencer and Mike Nunez, another LP resident, volunteer their time to administer. The administrator job can be very time consuming since they cross check all requests for membership with the Orange County property appraiser website. In addition, they regularly recheck members since people are always coming and going. There are currently 1,000 members.
This FB page has enabled people to share concerns, ideas and activities; connect people with similar interests; and spawned numerous other smaller interest-focused LP/Nona FB groups. It was invaluable during both hurricanes Matthew and Irma in keeping the neighborhood connected and supported.
LP offers neighbors participation in numerous small-group activities. Some of the groups that have helped connect neighbors in LP include walking/running, cycling, bunco, lunch, game night, cooking, Bible studies, book clubs, Help Mob, yoga, and weight loss – and these are just a few. All these groups started with one or two volunteers posting on FB, “Who would like to… .” The result is many, many neighbors getting to know each other and finding additional common interests. You learn the streets in your neighborhood, where people live, and walk or bike to your activities.
Organize neighborhood-wide celebrations/events/activities for everyone to enjoy. In LP, the neighbors have organized several super fun events over the past four years. Memorable ones include: last day of school water fight; football kickoff night in the park; pick-up soccer and football in the park; potluck brunches; meet and greets; Easter egg hunt with crafts and DJ in the park; and Labor Day bike parade and picnic with DJ and relay races in the park.
Again, these activities were all started by one individual or group of individuals that said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to… .” Our most recent event, the LP Labor Day bike parade and picnic, started exactly that way. Someone said, “I used to live in a community where we… .” A couple others said, “Let’s do it!” Twenty-one volunteers later, we had a fabulous event enjoyed by neighbors of all ages.
So we encourage you to get to know your neighbors. Plan a block party, gather together for a night of cards, start a book club. Lastly, and very importantly, please participate whenever possible. Be the organizer, the volunteer and/or the participant. The benefits are tremendous. You will get to know wonderful people who at minimum you share a corner of the world with, and probably much more.
Laureate Park Neighborhood Watch Area Coordinators
Larry Albert, Mary Fenton-Lee, Gene Thatcher, Linda Thierry