Forest Park social committee
By Lisa Nicklanovich; photo courtesy of Sarah Zales
An introduction made on a walk during quarantine last year turned into a friendship that led Sarah Zales and Brooke Walters to co-chair the Forest Park social committee, a neighborhood located in the City of Castle Pines. Despite planning during a pandemic and the fact that both women work full time and have small children, the committee has made a real difference in the neighborhood and has exciting plans they are working on for the future.
Zales said, “Our main mission for the social committee was to create a sense of community for all of our residents, from the children to the retirees and everyone in between. We wanted to provide a positive social outlet for residents so that no one felt alone and everyone feels included.”
The committee, which also includes Jennie Cartwright, Nici Mahen, Kathie Wagner and Misty Fricke, coordinated socially-distanced events last year that Zales said, “were old-fashioned kinds of events in the middle of a really hard time for many people.” The committee received many great ideas for future gatherings from residents through a survey. A world-renowned cellist and a guitar player in an ‘80s band offered to share their talents with the community in potential upcoming events.
The committee is contemplating food trucks, wine tastings, pet events, scavenger hunts, card games, chili cook-offs and service events that help others. For spring, a simple sidewalk chalk contest may take place, keeping safety and a limited budget in mind.
In addition to the social committee, Zales started a Facebook mom’s group which was a way for families to communicate and share ideas when they couldn’t get together. Zales tapped the group members to be matched up with an elderly person in the Pine Ridge neighborhood, where Zales’ own mom lives. “I saw how hard it was having all their social events canceled, especially for the single ladies living alone,” Zales said. Gifts were delivered on doorsteps and the Facebook moms often left their phone number along with their gift, offering to help in any way.
Zales used to work long hours downtown, so working from home this past year allowed her the opportunity to get to know her community. Zales added that she was motivated to “create these community connections for my children growing up so that they know what it means to be a part of a community and to be cared for by a community.” Taking the time to get to know her neighbors came back around for Zales; when her doorbell was ringing recently with neighbors leaving gifts on her doorstep for her birthday her mom exclaimed, “Wow, you sure have a lot of neighbor friends!”