The past twelve months have been extraordinary for SPAR and Springfield, both within our residential blocks and along our commercial corridors. Our signature annual events – the Historic Springfield Tour of Homes, the July 4th Throwback Baseball Game, and Jacksonville PorchFest – were all bigger and better than ever, with record-setting attendance and great publicity for our community.
We worked with the City and municipal agencies on dozens of issues, hosted community meetings and preservation workshops, led cultural projects, completed numerous neighborhood cleanups, improved public safety and activated our parks with popular programming and permanent public art. We welcomed fantastic new businesses to Main Street and supported our existing businesses through an invigorated business association (SAMBA) and entrepreneur-friendly events. And of course, we welcomed many new neighbors to our Springfield Historic District community, and assisted with their countless questions regarding our unique, diverse neighborhood.
We take our role as a community leader seriously, but these activities and their positive impacts would not be possible without the support of hundreds of Springfield residents and community partners. I speak on behalf of the SPAR Board of Directors and our staff, in saying that we are all deeply appreciative of each and every contribution of time, funds and talent. (Read more)
The next twelve months are perhaps even more promising, as people increasingly become engaged in our neighborhood, events are planned, and new projects come online:
- Our new board members – Soner Acar, Janie Coffey, Noelle Easterling, Kelly Lezama, Michael Montoya and Mark Morley – are diving in headfirst, and bring new perspectives to the table. In addition, we always welcome and value volunteers who participate in our key standing committees, including fund development, event coordination, membership engagement, commercial development, and more.
- We are already hard at work planning the 40th annual Tour of Homes on May 19th and 20th, and yes - the 5th annual Jacksonville PorchFest will rock our porches and parks again on November 3rd, 2018. Of course, we organize many other events throughout the year, as well. Stay tuned!
- Restaurants, medical offices and other new businesses plan to open their doors in Springfield in 2018 as well, which will continue to build a commercial vibrancy unseen in our community in decades. We will assist with these projects as needed and wherever possible.
I would be remiss without recognizing that 2018 will be a year of change within the organization.
We will soon announce the selection of our new Executive Director, who will help lead SPAR and our community forward into 2018 and beyond. Christina Parrish Stone served with passion and grace in that position over the past two years, and we wish her luck in her new endeavors. I recently had the honor of being selected as the new President of the SPAR Board, as well. Michelle Tappouni’s two years of dedicated service in the role will be tough to follow, but I am up for the task.
Though the faces and roles may change, the mission and drive of the organization are steadfast, and guided by our newly completed three year strategic plan. I hope you take a few minutes to peruse it.
2018 is sure to bring surprises and challenges, as well as great opportunity and joy. I appreciate your support, and look forward to hearing from you.