Michael Halicki with Park Pride

Executive Director of Park Pride Michael Halicki is in the studio for today’s episode of Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio. Joined by co-hosts Carol Morgan and Todd Schnick, the group discusses various efforts by Park Pride to keep Atlanta beautiful through enhancing its hundreds of parks and greenspaces on this Around Atlanta segment of Radio.

Halicki worked with several environmental organizations before landing with Park Pride. His current job as executive director with the nonprofit keeps him busy, but in his free time, Halicki can be found with his wife and children or taking pictures in various parks around Atlanta to display on Instagram and Facebook.

“Seeing the impact that the organization has in bringing the community together, getting to a point where people know their neighbors and get together to enrich the community, is something that really sets Park Pride apart,” said Halicki. “It is a part that I have really come to appreciate over time.

Park Pride is an Atlanta-based nonprofit that encourages communities to activate the power of parks. Formed in 1989, Park Pride is the only nonprofit organization in Atlanta working to improve the parks and green spaces throughout the city. With a mission of contributing to the overall health and well-being of Atlanta, Park Pride has helped raise millions of dollars to support hundreds of parks over the past 30 years.

Composed of 13 staff members, Park Pride works throughout Atlanta, as well as in Tucker and Brookhaven. Halicki and his team work with these local governments to find ways to connect the communities with their parks.

The organization operates on a widespread level by creating “Friends of the Park” groups. These groups get involved in parks nearby and work on several service projects to raise the quality of the area. Park Pride receives grant funding to allocate to these groups for park improvements, including beautification efforts, trails, playgrounds and more. The grant funding is designed to be used by the individual groups to use at their discretion. This way, Friends of the Park are able to closely define what their park or greenspace needs the most. As members of the community, Friends of the Park spend the most time in these areas and can establish what the greatest need is at the time.

“We believe that a great park is not something that is defined by a landscape architect or a park professional,” said Halicki. “Neighbors define what is a great park for them. Neighbors also change in terms of the demographics of the people that live around them. A park that might’ve met the community’s needs at one point might change as different families move in.”

Parks play an instrumental part in keeping communities connected, healthy and happy. From water parks and dog parks to playgrounds, walking trails and rolling fields, Atlanta parks play a number of important roles in the lives of its citizens. Recently, the importance of parks has grown even more as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Studies show that attendance at parks is not only up as much as 60%, but that the same people are visiting multiple parks in the area.

Over the past 30 years, Park Pride has established several different programs to keep the organization running and working efficiently. One program, the fiscal sponsorship program, was designed so people could raise restricted money for their specific parks through Park Pride. That money raised helps to unlock money from foundations to support larger parks as well, including Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Beltline. In addition, Park Pride helps these smaller Friends of the Park groups write grants to earn even more money for their parks. The grant money can be used towards whatever specific needs each park group has.

“Part of Park Pride’s magic is that we believe your good idea throughout the community is the big idea,” said Halicki. “We’re not there to tell communities what they need, we’re there to listen and then find help and support along the way. Through a combination of raising your own dollars and tapping into that grant pool, great things happen in parks all over.”

To learn more about Park Pride or to find out how you can help, listen to the full interview above. You can also visit www.ParkPride.org.

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Georgia Residential Mortgage Licensee, License #22564. NMLS ID #6606. Subject to borrower and property qualifications. Not all applicants will qualify. New American Funding and Park Pride are not associated. Click here to view the terms and conditions of products mentioned during the show. Corporate office 14511 Myford Rd., Suite 100, Tustin, CA 92780. Phone: (800) 450-2010. (February/2021)

New American Funding is a family-owned mortgage lender with a servicing portfolio of over 123,000 loans for $30.4 billion, 198 branches, and about 3,100 employees. The company offers several niche loan products and has made Inc. 5000’s list of Fastest-Growing Companies in America six times. It has a state-of-the-art career training facility and develops innovative technology, including the GoGo LO mobile application. For more information, visit www.branch.newamericanfunding.com/Atlanta.

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