Parks and public spaces like Shelby Farms Park have never mattered more than they do today. We know that access to nature, fresh air and open space are going to play a critical role in the health and healing of our community.
Many visitors have reached out in the last few days, worried that the Park might close. A long-time visitor sent a text today calling the Park, "a refuge." Others have called it their "happy place" or part of their plan to "make it through." This is feedback we take very seriously--we are now united by the challenges we all face to our physical, emotional and mental health. In a time of unprecedented isolation, our public parks can help us maintain important social bonds and empathy for one another.
So far, our understanding of shelter-in-place and safer-at-home orders allow for people to hike trails, ride bikes and enjoy open spaces while maintaining social distance.
We are committed to keeping the Park + Greenline open as long as we can, but we can't do it without your help.
Like so many others, our business is taking a hard hit. As a nonprofit, we have to raise and earn 83% of our $5 million annual operating budget--more than $11,000 a day. With more people understandably nervous about personal finances, donations have slowed. With nearly all of our event space rentals canceled or postponed and our retail programs shut down, we're facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses that could make our operations unsustainable without help.
While many of our 45 full-time staff members are now working from home, our operations team members are still coming to the Park each day to open the gates, feed the buffalo, monitor water levels in our lakes, patrol the Park and respond to visitor needs. The dedication and hard work of our park rangers and maintenance team have never been more evident. This is work they do for you, our visitor.
We are committed to you, but keeping Shelby Farms Park + Greenline open is something we have to do together.
Frankly, asking for donations in a time of great uncertainty for so many is uncomfortable for us, but donors like you have always stepped up to help us in our times of need and we once more need your help. If you value free and open community access to Shelby Farms Park + Greenline, please give if you are able. Any amount helps, and every gift will contribute to our ability to operate the Park for you in this challenging time.