The PARC’S Foundation brings residents together to enhance Seminole County’s parks, trails, and recreational facilities
Seminole County may be one of the smallest counties in the State of Florida, but it is also one of the most beautiful. Boasting more than 24 parks, over 40 miles of paved trails, and eight wilderness areas covering more than 6,600 acres, our county is a haven for outdoor activities. Whether you want to canoe on the Wekiva River, hike in the Black Bear Wilderness Area, or bike along the Cross Seminole Trail, you don’t have to go very far to enjoy nature’s bounty.
In 2013, in an effort to enhance the county’s natural gems and facilities, the PARC’S Foundation (People, Activities, Recreation, Conservation, Seminole) was formed by a group of committed residents. Together, they work to deliver on Seminole County’s moniker as Florida’s Natural Choice by seeking ways to improve and endow the area’s precious public assets.
“We’re a small but active group of citizens who want to raise money to support our parks, natural lands, and sports venues,” says John Horan, the organization’s treasurer and retired chairman of the Seminole County Commission. He is also a longtime resident of Tuskawilla. “We’re a philanthropic vehicle, and we also help with public awareness and promotion of different programs. We are so fortunate. Seminole County is wonderful, and we enjoy a great quality of life here.”
In addition to John, the PARC’S Foundation board members include Matt Criswell, Madison Wilkinson, Susie Dolan, Rob Dominica, and Emily Hanna. The group works closely with Seminole County’s Department of Leisure Services to determine its needs and goals and help fill in the funding gaps.
Most recently, the foundation hosted a successful fundraiser to support the development of a play-for-all playground at the Rolling Hills community in Longwood. The park will be designed for children of all capabilities.
One of the PARC’S Foundation’s biggest endeavors was the construction of a new, state-of-the-art playground at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry back in 2015. Thanks to a generous donation from board member Rob Dominica in memory of his father Richard (owner of a well-known recreation products company), as well as other partner vendors, the playground features unique elements not yet installed anywhere else in Florida, including a tandem swing for parent and child. Even better, it was all built without a dime of taxpayer money.
“During my time as a commissioner, I learned that not only are our natural lands, trails, parks, and sports venues important for our community, but they put us at an economic advantage,” says John. “These are things that virtually everyone enjoys. Our quality of life is a great selling point.”
Additionally, the PARC’S Foundation provides funds to give deserving young people the opportunity to volunteer their time in programs offered by Seminole County’s Department of Leisure Services. The organization also promotes the county’s memorial program, which offers residents the opportunity to memorialize a loved one, mark a special occasion, or recognize a significant group or event. A carefully chosen memorial tree or bench (located within certain Seminole County parks, trails, natural lands, and recreational facilities) is selected and commemorated with a plaque.
The PARC’S Foundation strives to continue its mission as a vessel for independent support and philanthropy to enhance Seminole County’s resources and reinforce the county’s reputation as a great place to live, work, visit, and play.
If you’d like to join the PARC’S Foundation effort, visit PARCSFoundation.org to learn how to get involved.
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