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EL DORADO NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION BIDS FOR NATIONAL “NEIGHBORHOOD OF THE YEAR” IN THE USA

By Marina Hernández

Photos by Monique Kuhlman



The term “friendly” describes people who are kind, caring and make you feel comfortable.  Which is precisely the feeling I got when first speaking with Michelle Culbertson, an El Dorado Park Estates (EDPE) Neighborhood Association board member. She has a sincere tone and speaks enthusiastically about the strides that the Association’s board of five devoted directors and its 225 paid members have made together. 


“Recognizing the power of intentional efforts, we devised a comprehensive plan to strengthen the fabric of our neighborhood,” states Michelle in an application for the Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) - Neighborhood of the Year Award. The award recognizes exceptional accomplishments within communities and, as you will read, El Dorado Park Estates clearly has a wholehearted chance at earning the award in the category of Social Revitalization.


The Association board’s “comprehensive plan,” spearheaded by President Kirk Bacon, laid out their 2023 desktop calendar and began plotting events throughout the year with the intention of bringing neighbors together in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.  


The first events were dubbed Sip and Stroll and were planned strategically within the EDPE community. The events were designed to foster a sense of togetherness and community spirit by encouraging residents to walk or bike through the neighborhood, meet neighbors, and stop by a ‘host home.’ The events offered snacks and drinks. With food-in-hand, neighbors connected with one another throughout the month of March at four separate Sip and Stroll locales. “I know my neighbors for the first time in my life. The events really contribute to a sense of community and help to break the ice with other neighbors,” remarks Andrea Kelber, a resident new to El Dorado Park Estates.  


The next planned event occurred in May, a revitalized Progressive Dinner which had been dormant for three years due to Covid. The EDPE board along with 11 volunteers chartered a double-decker Big Red Bus (bigredbus.com) to transport attendees through the neighborhood, visiting three homes, each hosting a portion of the evening meal. The theme of the night was “Keeping It Local'' and the neighbors did just that by providing food options from nearby restaurants and bakeries. A raffle with prizes donated by homeowners within the association raised $600 for future community events.


Like many of our 908 neighborhoods, the Fourth of July is a big community event for EDPE. The Association continued its Annual Bike and Dog Parade tradition with over 350 kids and adults riding decorated bikes under tree-lined streets. A police car led the parade and red, white and blue popsicles were distributed to eager kids at the finish line. Neighborhood realtor, Sarah Ireland, hosted an All-American Beef Slider truck, and a cherry pie-eating contest was sponsored by Long Beach Truck Supplies.  


In August, the City of Long Beach hosted a meeting for neighborhood association leaders which marked a turning point for the EDPE Association and their commitment to doing more for their residents. Discussions during the meeting emphasized civic-minded goals such as partnering with local charities and accessing city micro-grants to support their vision. Thus the inspiration for Mission Possible began. So far, Mission Possible has included two neighborhood events with an objective to raise money or collect goods for local charities.  


The Association put on a community “Movie with a Mission” night with a 16-foot inflatable screen and dozens of families filling a blocked-off street within El Dorado Park Estates. Attendees were encouraged to contribute either a $5 donation or personal hygiene products to be donated to the Long Beach Rescue Mission, a local non-profit organization that provides immediate and long term support for individuals experiencing homelessness. Families enjoyed the movie, “Minions: The Rise of Gru.” A crew of 18 volunteers created a festive atmosphere, including special appearances by “Gru” and “Bob” (the Minion). The event raised $1500 in both cash and donated products. 


Scouting for Food was a collaboration between EDPE and Boy Scout Troop 117 which provided another opportunity for residents to directly impact Long Beach families in need. Spearheaded by 13 volunteers and utilizing various communication channels like Facebook, Instagram, a community newsletter and an email blast, the EDPE community and Boy Scout Troop 117 proudly donated over 750 non-perishable items to St. Gregory’s food bank and the Salvation Army.


“We are eager to build off this momentum, continue to foster connections within the community, and expand its philanthropic efforts,” states Michelle Culbertson about El Dorado Park Estates in their NUSA application.    




INTERESTED IN STARTING YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD EVENTS?


If you are interested in starting a 

grassroots event in your neighborhood, the city of Long Beach has MANY 

resources to support your endeavors. 


Visit longbeach.gov and search “list of neighborhood groups” to join an established association. As of January 2024, there are three associations in District 5, seven in District 4, and fourteen in District 3.  


Don’t see your neighborhood on the list or map? Consider collaborating with neighbors to officially begin your own. Beginning with a small group of 3-4 interested, enthusiastic volunteers is a great start. In addition to residents, 

consider reaching out to business owners, church leaders, local real estate agents and anyone with a vested 

interest in the success of your neighborhood (within a defined boundary). 


Plan your first meeting with these basic questions in mind: 


   • What are the issues that need to be addressed? 

    •How do we want to improve our neighborhood? 

    • What are the available resources in our community? 

    • Prioritize your goals, set meeting dates and plan your first event!


The Long Beach Neighborhood 

Resource Center (NRC) offers free access to a variety of materials to support your group’s efforts including computers, printers, copy machines, coffee urns, tables and chairs. They even offer a five-month long Neighborhood Leadership Program assisting grassroots residents with “the skills, knowledge and resources you need to make a difference in the quality of life in our community.”


We would love to hear what great things are going on in your friendly neighborhood. Please share your neighborhood successes with us at office@lb908.com.

1 Comment


Erik
Erik
Mar 29

Hi,

I came across your site and thought you might be interested in learning that there now exists a Running Dinner Planner app in the AppStore that allows you to plan an optimal seating arrangement and create personalized invitations for guests and hosts, all within a couple of minutes and with minimum input. It’s free, so check it out: www.running-dinner-planner.com (for a short demo-movie see: https://youtu.be/oMeoZgQQ6jY)

cheers

Erik

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