Parker’s new mayor has issued a twofold challenge to get residents more involved in helping the town thrive.
Mike Waid, who took office Dec. 17, launched a loose-knit Facebook group on New Year’s Eve that quickly ballooned to an active following of 702 members by Jan. 10. “The Mayor’s Challenge 2013” encourages residents to “choose a local nonprofit or civic organization and donate at least one hour of your time per month” and “patronize a locally owned business at least once per week.”
After seeing how rapidly the group expanded in the first days, Waid went further and asked members to extend invitations to friends in a bid to double the number, with much success. Since then, dozens of Parkerites have posted about visiting shops like the Mainstreet Flower Market or eating at local restaurants like Las Delicias and Junz.
Waid says it’s no longer about him asking residents to take action, but it’s “people talking to each other” and, for example, making recommendations for restaurants that other group members might not know about. He hopes the challenge will eventually lead to a paradigm shift in which residents' first choice is to patronize locally owned shops and franchises.
One woman touted her volunteerism at Pine Lane Elementary, and Parker resident Kelly Clark posted about attending a board meeting for the Parker Piece Keepers Quilt Guild, a nonprofit that educates beginner and skilled quilters and engages in charitable outreach programs. Waid said Douglas County has more registered 501(c)(3)s than anywhere else in the nation, which affords plenty of opportunities to get involved.
“No matter what your passion is, there is a nonprofit in this area,” he said.
Clark says “The Mayor’s Challenge 2013” creates an opportunity for locals to invest in small businesses and encourage others to do the same.
“I've lived in Parker almost my whole life and one of the things I admire most is its authenticity and small-town feel even as it has grown substantially,” she said. “The Facebook page is a great medium to ask my friends to support Parker and to let people know which small businesses I support.”
Waid’s platform as an elected official enables him to get the word out initially, then let the people take control of the effort. He says it’s not a new idea, but sometimes it takes a little push to get the ball rolling. The plan was to also make the goals attainable for those with busy schedules.
During his campaign for the mayor’s seat, Waid vowed to help Parker businesses through different means, and the Facebook movement is the first step.
“What prompted me to issue it is the tenets of what I ran on: that we all leave Parker a better place than we found it,” he said.