Each year, Westridge celebrates “Green Day”- a derivative of Earth Day where we clean up our neighborhoods, educate on environmental issues, and provide shredding and large item trash collection. This year was something special because we joined forces with the Westridge Elementary School PTA’s scheduled outdoor carnival as a combined event.
When we noticed that the school was having their event on the same day as ours, Westridge’s new Social Committee approached the school’s PTA and suggested they collaborate so as to not “poach” the community and force it to choose which event to support. The PTA was happy to give us a special area at the carnival and welcomed our supporters to their event. This benefited everyone because Westridge’s environmental agenda reached a wider audience and there were lots of activities for the kids.
The day started out rather gloomy with rain and drizzle, but the organizers sprung into action by moving the entire event into the school auditorium. While Girl Scouts and volunteers were picking up trash in the neighborhoods and around the lake, the PTA and Social committee transformed the school into an epic carnival environment. There were bouncy houses, slides, vendors, games; gardeners, face-painters, Daisy the Associa Green mascot, promotional freebies, and a DJ. Outside were food trucks waiting with delicious offerings. While all this was going on, American Disposal and Eco-Shred were at our HOA Clubhouse parking lot open for business and representatives from Action in Community Through Service (ACTS) and Woodbridge HUGS (Help Us Grow Strong) were collecting donations of canned goods and used clothing. Despite the inclement weather, the crowds showed up for the revelry. The carnival atmosphere got people excited. This was truly a three-ring circus and a great success for all.
We learned several valuable lessons this year:
- Teaming with another organization in the neighborhood, like Westridge Elementary School PTA, increased the visibility of our own community. Not all the school’s students are Westridge residents. We were able to show the pride we have in our community.
- Westridge Elementary School is seen as an important integral part of our community. It is not simply located in Westridge, but it is a vital part of Westridge.
- Sharing a common goal allowed the organizers to make new friends and alliances. Many members serve on the PTA and are also active residents of Westridge.
- Many planners and helpers are much better than a few people who have to do everything. Really? We knew that already, but sometimes you have to ASK for help or look for a collaboration partner.
- Today’s children are tomorrow’s citizens. Include them. Make it fun. Make it memorable and lead by example. Oh yeah, and, take plenty of photos!
We plan to repeat this event with the PTA again next year. It was a huge success for everyone and there is excitement for how to make 2019 even better. If you have read this far, now you know how “Green Day” evolved into Westridge Community Day. We couldn’t be happier about it.
Special thanks to the Westridge Elementary School, its PTA, our General Manager, Deborah Carter, the Westridge Social Committee, and all the volunteers, vendors, and supporters who turned a rainy day in May into a successful community event.
By Ron Dionne
Ron serves as the vice president of the Westridge Swim and Racquet Club in Woodbridge, Virginia. Ron also serves as a member of the Covenants Committee and is an active volunteer in the community.