Community associations benefit from social activities promoting a sense of belonging and cohesiveness in the community. Owners who know their neighbors, and socialize with each other, are more content with a sense of connection to others in the community. Feeling more invested improves pride of ownership, which will reflect positively in all aspects of the neighborhood and association. From a management perspective, it makes life a little easier if the owners are familiar and friendly with each other. When conflicts arise, there is more likelihood that owners will settle differences amongst themselves, as it will be easier to approach a discussion with a friend and neighbor than with an unknown stranger. Otherwise, as managers, we are often asked to intervene in conflicts that can easily be settled in a neighborly conversation between owners. Ever had to intervene in a “my neighbor’s dog pooped on my lawn” feud between owners?
Planning and Organizing – Summer activities take a lot of planning, so start as far in advance as possible forming committees and assembling volunteers to assume different tasks and functions for the warm weather activities. Individuals in the community with varied expertise are usually more than happy to donate time and energy to neighborhood causes. Preparation should start with a task list and duty assignments, as well as timelines on when the items need to be complete to ensure a successful event. The larger the scope of the event, the longer and more detailed the planning should extend. An event such as a pool party or a cookout may take 6-8 months of planning if it is a large event.
Some suggestions for activities that bring families and communities together include:
Movies in the Park – If your neighborhood has an open park area where blankets or lounge chairs can be placed, consider holding a family movie night…or two or three. Movie nights are great fun for all under the stars on a warm summer night. Outdoor movie rental screens are easy to rent and set up. Large screens can be rented for a nominal fee or find a plain wall which will work also. Family movies such as Disney’s Zootopia, Toy Story, Inside Out, Cars, and Monsters Inc. are appropriate for all to see. If the community budget allows, serve popcorn and soda! Popcorn machines can be set up or pre-prepared bags of popcorn and soda cans may be made available.
Fourth of July Parades and Parties – Fun for the young and the old, a parade brings everyone outside. Planners should have a route planned with streets blocked if possible. Make sure you go through the proper channel and that everyone in your neighborhood is well informed of the parade route. Have children of all ages decorate their bicycles and scooters with patriotic red, white, and blue. If children are too young, wagons and strollers may be decorated as well. Have prizes for different age groups, best bike or scooter, and best wagon or stroller. Follow the parade with a gathering where you can provide drinks and treats!
Ice Cream Social – Usually held in August, this is a great back to school event or just a great way to cool off in the heat of summer that will soon be coming to an end. Set up a table with the entire fixins’ and let everyone add their own toppings. Want to get creative? Make your own ice cream! Add some fun lawn games for the whole family.
Earth Day – In May, an Earth Day event will attract those members of the community that desire feeling useful and needed in the community. Usually, community vendors will donate bottled water and the trash vendor can donate containers for the trash and other items to assist with the beautification efforts. Consider planting shrubs and flowers supplied by the landscaping company in areas that are bare.
Culture Day Potluck – Consider a twist to a regular potluck event by inviting foods from around the world in diverse communities. This is a fun event and introduces dishes and snacks that add variety, and is a great way to learn about various cultures from around the world. Culture-themed games and activities can be incorporated if desired.
Summer Bonfire – A bonfire is an easy and relaxing event which allows neighbors time to just talk and unwind. S’mores or a hot dog bar can add fun and inexpensive pizazz to the event. Standard safety precautions should be followed for the bonfire. We wouldn’t want the neighborhood to go up in flames as that could put a damper on the summer fun!
By Tamara L. Padgett, CMCA, AMS
Tamara is a portfolio manager for Cardinal Management Group in Woodbridge. She has six years of experience in community management with a background in residential management and mortgage lending