Three conservation rain barrels were purchased in 2014 with a $500 grant to Parsons Community Garden. Filled after about three inches of rain, these barrels not only align with the garden’s mission for use of green practices in the garden, but due to the close proximity to the garden plots, they have also eased the chore of watering by those with walking, balance, or respiratory issues.
In July 2014, for the fourth time, Parsons Paint Project brought Work Camp mission youth volunteers to Parsons for one week of work. These dedicated young people painted or made repairs to 43 homes in Parsons.
Local homeowners who were unable physically or financially to make these improvements to their homes submitted applications for acceptance in this program. In total, the Parsons Paint Project has now made improvements to 183 homes in Parsons, and the Parsons Area Community Foundation has granted a total of $28,000 in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 to assist in purchasing paint and lumber.
The Parsons Community Garden (PCG) started in 2010 and occupies two residential lots of FEMA buyout land. Before the 2003 tornado, this centrally located land had residential homes but after the tornado it was discovered that the land was in a 100 year flood plain even though the area had not flooded in anyone’s memory. The City of Parsons has given the PCG a long term lease for the property. Additional space is available if more land is needed.
PCG was founded with the goal of providing people the opportunity to grow healthy food, be physically active, and interact with others while also reducing their food costs. The PCG promotes accessible, inclusive gardening to people of all ages, health conditions, and disabilities. With an average annual membership of 80 members, PCG offers membership dues on a sliding scale based on need. Approximately 65% of its members participate at no cost. This increases the need for private donations since the paying members cannot support all the costs of needed garden improvements.
To make improvements for individuals with mobility issues, problems with strength or fatigue, and other disabilities, the grant received from the Parsons Area Community Foundation provided funds to purchase raised hose reels, adapted tools, and soil improvement for four-foot square totes. These improvements have allowed gardeners of all abilities and ages to join. The PCG has 87 active members this year – some individuals admitted they joined because the easy use of the hose reels and adapted tools removed a barrier for them. We are very grateful for the support of the community foundation. —Sheila Simmons, Volunteer Founding Member, Parsons Community Garden
In 2012 and 2013, the Parsons Fire Department, on behalf of the County of Labette Emergency Management, was awarded a total of $11,400 to purchase Automated External Defibrillators (AED’s) for all county responder locations: Chetopa First Responders, Bartlett/Hackberry Township Fire Department, Edna Fire Department, Mound Valley Fire Department, Oswego Fire Department, Neosho Township Fire Department, Chetopa Fire Department, and Osage Township Fire Department. These AEDs coordinate with those used by Labette Health, and when used even once to save a life, are priceless in value.