Mayor Chris Beutler today said the funds given by residents to two community donation programs - Lincoln Cares and 2 for Trees - continue to fund important City projects.
"These two programs demonstrate the generosity of our residents and the high value they place on these City services," said Mayor Chris Beutler. "The programs and projects funded by these programs would not have been possible without the community's donations, the partnerships with LES and LWS and the additional grants, sponsorships and in-kind gifts. I want to thank all those who contribute to these public-private partnerships, which are helping to improve the quality of life in all areas of our community."
Five Lincoln media organizations will provide $30,000 of in-kind advertising and promotion for the two programs for the fifth consecutive year. They are KOLN/KGIN-TV; KLKN-TV; Three Eagles Communications; Broadcast House; and the Lincoln Journal Star. Dave Hilligoss, morning show host at KFOR (1240 AM), announced a two-week blitz to motivate additional LES customers to enroll in Lincoln Cares.
"We will have daily announcements on KFOR and our sister station, KFRX-FM, to motivate people to take the simple step of enrolling in this tremendous program that provides so many benefits to our community," Hilligoss said. "We believe that once people understand how simple it is, they'll happily enroll in Lincoln Cares."
A new enrollment system announced in December makes it easier for customers to continue their support of Lincoln Cares by having their $1 donation automatically included on their LES bill each month. Customers can enroll at www.LES/lcdonate or by calling 402-475-4211.
Customers who already have their Lincoln Cares donations included on their monthly bills do not need to re-enroll. The option to add $1 to the LES bill on a month-by-month basis will be discontinued later this year. Customers can discontinue their automatic donation at any time by calling LES.
To date, 3,647 LES customers have enrolled in Lincoln Cares program. From February 2003 through January 2014, Lincoln Cares has collected $697,543 in donations from LES customers. An average of 5,439 LES customers donated to the program on a monthly basis. More than $500,000 in additional funds has been contributed through direct donations to the City and local foundations, businesses and neighborhood associations.
Programs and projects funded by Lincoln Cares are selected by the Lincoln Cares Advisory Board, made up of representatives from Parks and Recreation, Lincoln City Libraries and Aging Partners as well as the community. This year's projects include a drinking fountain at Rudge Park, a play area for Sunburst Park, Leading to Reading Spaces for South Branch Library, upgraded library equipment for special events, portable solar lighting for Pioneers Park Nature Center and Pinewood Bowl, Haines Branch Prairie Corridor, Parker's Pals Scholarships and fitness equipment for the Aging Strong program. (A list of new projects and sponsors follows this release.)
"Leading to Reading spaces enhance our libraries by providing children with the kind of play that leads to learning and school success," said Pat Leach, Library Director of Lincoln City Libraries. "Lincoln Cares also will help upgrade our equipment and furnishings so as many people as possible can participate in our library events. The generosity of the community helps us make libraries a free and welcoming place for all our residents."
"Statistics show that people who engage in moderate but consistent exercise experience fewer falls, are happier and live independently longer," said June Pederson, Director of Aging Partners. "Thanks to LES customers who support Lincoln Cares, we can all work to improve our fitness through Aging Strong."
Beutler said the City's newest donation program, 2 for Trees, is also having a big impact, with contributions totaling $221,152. Through January 2014, LWS customers have donated $126,152 to the program. An additional $95,000 in grant funding includes a $50,000 matching grant for this year's projects provided by the Lincoln Community Foundation on behalf of the Kenneth J. Good Endowed Fund. In-kind donations have come from Finke Gardens and Nursery; Campbell's Nurseries & Garden Centers; Earl May Nursery and Garden Centers (North and South); Nebraska Nursery and Garden Center; Lanoha Nurseries; and Eagle Nursery. A new sponsor in 2014 is Hofeling Enterprises: "The Tree Guys."
In 2013, 2 for Trees provided for 268 street trees with watering bags along Holdrege, South, "L," Van Dorn and S. 56th streets as well as the Boosalis Trail. The program provided trees for planting at Ager Golf Course, Pioneers Park and Peter Pan Park.
2 for Trees donations also funded 200 vouchers to help residents plant street trees along residential streets as well as equipment and materials for tree establishment and watering. This year, 2 for Trees will provide trees along key entryway corridors, including West Adams, Cornhusker, I-180 and 9th Street.
"Lincoln has more than 125,000 public trees, and these donations show how much Lincolnites appreciate and treasure them," said Lynn Johnson, Director of Lincoln Parks and Recreation. "By providing the extra ongoing support to replace public trees lost to disease, decline or damage, 2 For Trees helps to maintain a multi-generational urban forest."
Drinking Fountain at Rudge Park: The new drinking fountain to be installed at Rudge Park, 14th and Lake streets, will include a separate fountain for pets. Project partner: Irvingdale Neighborhood Association
Haines Branch Prairie Corridor: The 7.5-mile corridor will link Pioneers Park with Spring Creek Prairie and provide enhancement and preservation of tall grass prairie, recreational and educational connections and economical development opportunities. Project partners: Lincoln Parks Foundation, Nebraska Home Sales-Rich and Max Rodenburg, Prairie Corridor Partnership
Parker's Pals: This scholarship program provides financial support for children of low-income families. It will include pool admissions, swimming lessons and participation in the swim/dive league and allow children to participate in youth and sports programs offered by Lincoln Parks and Recreation. Project partners: Culver's, Lincoln Area Retired School Personnel, Olsson Associates
Aging Strong: Aging Strong is part of the health and fitness program provided by Aging Partners to adults age 55 and over in Lincoln and Lancaster County. Lincoln Cares donations will be used to finance fitness equipment at the Aging Partners Health and Fitness Center, 233 South 10th Street. Project partner: Seniors Foundation
Leading to Reading Spaces: These educational places for young children have special computers and developmentally appropriate toys to encourage literacy. Funding will be used to add computer stations and toys at the South Branch Library, 27th and South streets. Project partners: Foundation for Lincoln City Libraries, Give to Lincoln Day 2013, and Bev Ward Fund
Upgraded Library Equipment for Special Events: This equipment will used to upgrade spaces for special events. Funding will be used to purchase sound field systems for all libraries and washable meeting room chairs for Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries. Project Partners: Dillon Foundation, Foundation for Lincoln City Libraries, and Woods Bros. Foundation
Sunburst Park Play Area: Improvements at Sunburst Park, 40th and "A" streets, will include a modern play structure with climbing pieces. Project Partners: Lincoln Parks Foundation and the 40th and "A" Neighborhood Association
Portable Solar Lighting for Pioneers Park Nature Center and Pinewood Bowl: The portable LED solar light tower can be used for lighting parking areas and for other events in Pioneers Park. Lincoln Parks and Recreation will fund the basic cost and Lincoln Cares will fund the cover the additional cost for a solar unit. Project partners: Friends of Pioneers Park Nature Center, NAQS Environmental Experts and Pinewood Bowl, Inc.
Successful projects funded by the Lincoln Cares program include: