Over the past 16 months since two friends devised a plan to connect a South County neighborhood, they’ve knocked on about 450 doors and spoken to about 300 residents in Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach.
Grover Beach resident Rob Feder and Kim Jeffers, a Santa Maria resident who works in South County, founded the Oak Park Community project to connect residents of about 500 mainly single-family homes on 24 blocks on either side of Oak Park Boulevard.
They’ve encountered some resistance to their plan, with about a dozen people declining to participate, a few saying they didn’t want to share contact information. But numerous others have supported the idea.
When Feder and Jeffers first publicized their plan last year, they hoped to gauge their success with a community Fourth of July parade down Oak Park Boulevard.
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But they found that a parade was not the residents’ idea of success.
“They viewed success by how many of their neighbors they were meeting through our project, and how much more they were interacting,” Feder said.
Instead, some blocks are holding street parties this July 4. Residents on Loganberry Avenue have traditionally held an annual street party but this year have invited their neighbors from several other blocks.
“I think it is starting to have some impact on the community,” resident Karen Gilmore said.
Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara, who lives in the area, has also been invited to several block parties.
“As a resident of the Berry Gardens Tract, I’m seeing more and more of my neighbors stepping forward to host social events and activities,” he wrote in an email. “People here are beginning to connect; with a handshake, a smile and a willingness to share information about themselves.”
Feder also noted how the project has helped residents respond more quickly when their neighbors need help. When one woman’s dog escaped a few months ago, Feder put out emails to residents in the area. The dog was found within 24 hours.
Feder said he and Jeffers plan to step back a little from the project. They’ll help out when needed, but hope local residents take more ownership to keep it going.
“It’s neat to see this whole spirit of community taking off,” he said. For more information, email Feder at rf.OakParkCommunity@gmail.com.
Golf-ball drop Saturday
Firefighters with the Five Cities Fire Authority will hold their first ever golf-ball drop Saturday to raise money for cancer and burn victims.
Each ticket purchased corresponds to the number on a golf ball, which will be dropped from a ladder truck onto the grass at the 16th Street Park in Grover Beach.
Prizes — including a 50-inch flat-screen television, a beach cruiser, a barbecue grill and a two-night hotel stay — will be awarded to those whose golf balls make it into the hole and those whose are closest.
Proceeds will benefit the Firefighter Cancer Support Network and the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation.
Tickets can be purchased online at http://fcfafundraiser.com or at fire stations at 140 Traffic Way in Arroyo Grande; 701 Rockaway Ave. in Grover Beach; or 1655 Front St. in Oceano.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday at 16th Street and Mentone Avenue.
Cynthia Lambert and Gayle Cuddy write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.