Friends Group Proposed For Berlin Parks

Friends Group Proposed For Berlin Parks
Supporting town parks, such as Stephen Decatur Park, would be the mission of the new Friends of Berlin Parks. Photo by Charlene Park

BERLIN – A proposal for a new nonprofit organization in Berlin could bring volunteers and funding to the town’s parks.

Longtime Berlin resident Patricia Dufendach, who is also a member of the Berlin Parks Commission, is hoping to create a new nonprofit organization to support the town’s parks. The group, to be called Friends of Berlin Parks, would coordinate volunteer efforts and potentially provide funding for the parks.

“Everybody wants to make the parks better,” she said. “The parks are one of the town’s greatest assets.”

Dufendach shared the mission statement and introduction of the proposed friends group with the Berlin Parks Commission this week. She says she’s currently in the process of forming a board of directors for Friends of Berlin Parks.

“Everybody I’ve talked to about it has been very interested,” Dufendach said. “They see the value of it.”

The goal of the nonprofit would simply be to support Berlin’s parks. Dufendach said she primarily wants the organization to coordinate volunteer efforts at the parks. In years past, while there have been projects completed by local school groups or community clubs, some of those efforts haven’t been maintained.

“Efforts get lost,” she said. “We need more of a volunteer coordination arm.”

She believes that with a centralized volunteer effort, events like annual butterfly counts and similar activities could take place in Berlin. She particularly has high hopes for what a friends group could do for Berlin Falls Park, which she’s hoping will eventually be named in honor of Mary Humphreys, a biology professor who went on to form the charitable Humphreys Foundation.

“That would be a crowning jewel for the town,” Dufendach said.

She said the friends group would also sponsor activities such as bird and wildlife counts, invasive plant removal and native ecology rehabilitation. Another project she wants the group to tackle is construction of a shed to store playground and park equipment.

Dufendach is also hoping that as a nonprofit the friends group could be a way to bring funds to the parks.

Town Administrator Laura Allen said that while the group was still in the process of being developed, a committed group of volunteers could benefit Berlin’s parks.  She said it had been disappointing to see certain projects in the parks not maintained.

“It seems like an interesting idea,” Allen said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.