Since its founding in 1969, Friends of Roseville Parks (FOR Parks) has raised more than $1,600,000 to beautify the parks of Roseville, MN, including facilitating the donation of about $1,000,000 to provide the residents of Roseville and surrounding communities with an accessible playground. The fundraising efforts of FOR Parks are intended to make our community and spaces more useful for Roseville residents and all who come to enjoy the bounteous green spaces in our community.
FOR Parks began as a fundraising arm of the Central Park Foundation with the first members composed primarily of the wives of the Foundation board members. The original charter, signed by a dozen women, focused efforts on raising money for Roseville’s largest green space, Central Park. “We recruited the movers and shakers of Roseville,” recalls Luella Zibell, the first membership chairman, and later president. “Our first meeting was at the home of 3M president Lewis Lehr who lived on Lake Owasso. I remember we had a string quartet providing entertainment. Our mission was to raise money any way we could. In the early years, we sold sno-cones at the Roseville Fourth of July celebration.” Zibell kept track of membership on 3×5 cards kept in a recipe box. “We tried very hard to get to 200 so we could use bulk mailing for our notices to members. That took several years to accomplish.”
Established early-on was the tradition to hold fall and spring luncheons. The fall membership luncheon was always scheduled right after school started when members who were moms would be able to attend. In that era, most members were stay-at-home housewives. The organization also planed “lifestyle” house tours, opening five homes to the public annually. Garden tours were also staged in an effort to increase membership. Thanks to the energy and ideas of younger board members, in 2014, FOR Parks hosted it first annual Tapped and Uncorked brewfest featuring Minnesota beers and wines – and has continued to build that event in the years since. Designer Handbag Bingo is a fundraising event hosted twice a year in the spring and fall as a way to connect with the community to raise money.
In the 1980s, the name Friends of Roseville Parks was adopted as the group decided to expand from fundraising only for Central Park. As a 501(3)c organization, FOR Parks was also able to garner lottery proceeds as that diversion gained hold.
Over the past several decades, the Friends of Roseville Parks has purchased benches for the parks and necessities like garbage cans. They funded aeration for Lake Bennett, a water feature at the Arboretum, playground equipment, and underwrote the building of the Dale Street Shelter in Central Park. Recently, FOR Parks generously donated to the rehabilitation of the Harriet Alexander Nature Center, building fireplaces in six new community centers in Roseville Parks, and facilitating a donation that funded the renovation of Central Park – Victoria West to provide the community with an accessible playground for all children and adults to enjoy.
Membership has evolved from stay-at-home moms to career women, just as fundraising efforts now bring new liveliness to our community, but the underlying purpose remains to enhance Roseville’s Parks through energetic fundraising.
What have we accomplished?
Below is a list of just a few of the many projects the Friends of Roseville Parks has funded in part or in full:
- Facilitated a generous donation that fully funded the upgrades to the inclusive playground and new adult fitness pods in Central Park/Victoria (2021)
- Contribution to the Cedarholm Community Building patio enhancements (2018)
- Indoor tree feature plus display cabinets at the Harriet Alexander Nature Center (2014, 2016)
- Fireplaces in six new Park Buildings (2014)
- Dale Street playground equipment (2009)
- Arboretum benches (2005, 2007)
- Muriel Sahlin Arboretum fountain (2001 & 2003)
- FOR Parks shelter kitchen upgrades (1995, 1997)
- Lake Bennett lit fountain aeration system (1997, 2012)
- Harriet Alexander Nature Center furnishings (1989)
- Lights around Lake Bennett (1985)
- Soccer field equipment (1979)
- Joe Mogg Memorial Boardwalk (1979)
- “Blooming Boulevard” – flowers along Lexington Ave. in front of Central Park (numerous years)