The NeighborHUB grant the Hubbard Farms Neighborhood Association (HFNA) received is just one example of how HFNA collaborates with Clark Park, specifically the Clark Park Coalition, to create lasting change in our community. Deb Sumner, longtime Hubbard Farms resident and current member of both HFNA and the Clark Park Coalition, shares the story of her involvement and the ways the two groups support each other below.
As far back as 38 years ago, I recall myself and several of my fellow resident moms of the Hubbard Farms neighborhood choosing to care about our neighborhood Clark Park. We took on self-initiated volunteer tasks to make beautification improvements to our beloved Clark Park and question the City Recreation Dept. Supervisor regarding the quality of the programs at our Clark Park Youth Recreation Center.
For example, in the springtime we would transplant rescued perennials such as shade-loving Hosta plants and orange day lilies because we found them at vacant and burnt out houses in the city that we knew were slated for demolition. Another example was when we as neighborhood moms raising kids in Hubbard Farms found it frustrating that the Clark Park Youth Recreation Center did not host programs at the quality that they should have been for our kids. We found ourselves questioning the City Recreation Dept. Supervisor located in a downtown office regarding the quality of the youth programs. As moms, we didn’t appreciate how the staff would behave at the Clark Park Youth Center such as sitting on the tops of the tables and being more concerned about getting through their daily newspaper then engaging with the youth.
Fast-forward to 1991, the moms were not only active at Clark Park, we were active in our Hubbard Farms Community Group, a nonprofit neighborhood association. We secured a State of Michigan Public Health Grant to install the first State of Michigan bilingual exercise trail in Clark Park with the collaboration of the City of Detroit Recreation Dept. who provided the man-power to install it. It served a variety of purposes, one of which was to generate positive activity to an area in Clark Park that was being taken over by negative activity.
At the end of that summer of 1991, the moms learn by reading the local newspaper that the City Rec Dept. was closing 11 City Rec Centers due to budget cuts, one of which was our Clark Park Youth Rec Center with the last outdoor ice hockey and skating rink in the entire city. Some of the moms grew up ice-skating on our Clark Park ice rink, including myself. With the help of other neighborhood residents and nonprofit leaders, we formed what is still known to this day as the Clark Park Coalition to strategize and implement our plan to reopen our Clark Park Youth Rec Center & Ice Rink. With the help of an influential local businessman, Hank Aguirre of Mexican Industries, an automotive supplier for the big three and former Detroit Tiger baseball pitcher, we were able to get the keys for the Clark Park Youth Rec Center and secure permission for the moms and other neighborhood resident volunteers to reopen the Center that winter season!
Our Clark Park Coalition story is frankly an amazing story of a small, gallant group of local resident volunteers who cared enough to stand up to the city and say “no, thank you, we not accept your closing our Clark Park Youth Rec Center.”
The Clark Park Coalition continues today, 28 years later, serving our youth. I, along with many others who started this amazing journey with me couldn’t be prouder of our successes and carrying out a motto “Teaching Our Youth to Dream!” Our volunteer adults have always been our youths’ role models and mentors, showing them by example that you can make your dreams come true.
Shared by Deb Sumner
CPC Founding Mom Member, Emeritus Chairperson & Present Board Officer, CPC Forever Volunteer, Former HFCG Board Member & Present HFNA Board Member