By Stephanie Gonzalez, CYCA president
Normally right now, Cooper-Young Community Association volunteers would be preparing for our annual 4th of July Parade. Families would gather at Peabody Elementary School to enjoy each other’s company and make our way around the neighborhood with pets, kids, decorated wagons, and more. That’s not happening this year.
There’s a lot that’s not happening this year. It’s looking unlikely that our two biggest fundraisers — the Cooper-Young Festival Friday 4-Miler and Cooper-Young Beerfest — will happen, or at least not in the way we’re used to. As a result, we’ve had to cut our one paid staff member down to part-time and really tighten our budget.
This is a strange time to be in a position of volunteer leadership, and the CYCA board is first to admit that we don’t have all the answers when it comes to serving our community. We’re used to gathering in person for board meetings, community meetings, and happy hours; publishing news in our LampLighter newspaper (which is also on hold due to financial reasons); and working with volunteers to better the neighborhood. Figuring out how to do all of that with no money and remotely — all while coping with the personal challenges that work and family life bring right now — has been difficult to say the least.
But we’re excited about what we can do, as well. Instead of our in-person 4th of July Parade, we’re hosting a 4th of July costume contest. Dress up your child or pet, or decorate your home, and submit photos via Instagram with the hashtag #CYJULY4 or email them to email@example.com by midnight on July 4. We’ll have prizes for each category, graciously donated by local businesses.
We’ll also gather on the evening of July 9 for a socially distant community clean up. We’ll meet at 7 p.m. at the gazebo and go for a community walk to clean up garbage. The CYCA will provide trash bags and gloves. Bring a beverage if you like, and please wear a mask.
Here’s what we’ve been doing to help and connect neighbors:
- Our executive director, Amanda Yarbro-Dill, started the Cooper-Young mutual support group, where we’ve been getting people together to share information and resources online. This is also where we’ve been encouraging people to either check on their aging or solo neighbors or tell us about them so we can do it.
- We’ve publicized our Benevolence Fund to help those in need. Although the fund has so far only been board member donations, we’d love other contributions. If you’re interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kenzie Campbell and Tiffany Day have moved the Cooper-Young monthly book club online. Email email@example.com for more info and to be invited to the Google Hangout meeting each month.
- Our committees (and board) are still meeting remotely. If you are interested in joining a 4-Miler, sustainability, development, or community committee meeting, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll include you in the next one.
- Memphis College of Art graduate, Kevin Won, completed work on a beautiful new Cooper-Young mural on the side of our office building at 2298 Young Ave. Take a selfie and tag us in it!
- We’ve been publicizing, hosting, and attending meetings around development in the neighborhood and sharing those updates with those who can’t be there. As a result of our development committee’s efforts to ensure that our Landmarks guidelines are enforced, two “tall and skinny” projects planned for Bruce Street were rejected last week and will go back to the drawing board to conform to regulations.
- We’re thinking of ways to host the 4-Miler virtually to bring people together for what’s normally a joyful in-person celebration. We’re also brainstorming other ways to raise money to keep the CYCA going and to help our neighbors feel connected right now.
Do you have other ideas for ways we could connect with each other right now? Do you want to get involved? We would love more volunteer support. And if you haven’t renewed your membership for 2020, please do so at cooperyoung.org.