A couple of years ago, the Missouri Park and Recreation Association’s (MPRA) leadership set out to help longtime members and friends give back to their profession and show gratitude for benefits they received throughout their careers. MPRA formed a committee and launched a survey to determine how best to help the next generation of park professionals in their communities. When all the information was in the results were clear: Members wanted additional educational opportunities.
To address that request, the MPRA Board of Directors approved the establishment of a new Education Fund. With a clear direction in mind, the committee set out to raise money for several endowed scholarships that would cover the costs of the annual MPRA conference and other educational opportunities throughout the year.
MPRA was fortunate to raise enough money during 2013 to offer its first three scholarships for the 2014 Annual Conference and Expo. Seven members applied and three were awarded scholarships covering registration, lodging and a travel stipend.
In order to make this an annual opportunity for its membership, MPRA needed to raise even more money. The solution? A brave commitment from Roscoe Righter, past MPRA president, and Gary Gates, assistant executive director, who volunteered to have their heads shaved if the membership reached its goal. If MPRA fell short, whoever raised the least amount of money would lose his locks.
This became known as the “Mane Event” of the 2014 Conference and Expo. Teaser ads ran prior to the conference indicating that something big involving shaving cream was going to happen. Conference delegates learned all the details shortly before they arrived and donations started rolling in. Anticipation grew as the week went on and by the end of conference, MPRA had met their goal of $25,000 and the education fund was fully endowed.
After the annual awards banquet, MPRA set up a makeshift barber shop. Top donors earned the opportunity to wield the shears to shave both heads.
Hopes are that MPRA’s Education Fund will continue to grow over the years through charitable gifts, but for now it’s large enough to provide at least three conference scholarships to professional members of the association each year. In the future, grants may also be made available for member agencies’ special projects.
Click here if you wish to contribute the MPRA Education Fund, or call 573.636.2838.
Sarah Veile is the Membership and Marketing Specialist for the Missouri Park and Recreation Association.