McKinley Square Maintained by Volunteers
Originally published in The Potrero View in March 2017.
Nestled at the corner of Vermont, San Bruno and 20th streets, the sun-drenched 100-year old McKinley Square Park, named after President William McKinley shortly after his death, is the focus of care by a dedicated cadre of volunteers. Every year, Friends of McKinley Square Park – a neighborhood advocacy group – organizes Corporate Days of Service, consisting of eight to 40 volunteers, to help maintain the open space.
“We have 10 to 15 companies a year that reach out to us to participate in the days of service,” said Joyce Book, executive project director, Friends of McKinley Square Park. “2016 was unique because the company wanted to work all day; it was exciting.”
Last fall, the organization partnered with San Francisco-based E.ON Solar Company to organize a full day of volunteer restoration projects. The E.ON Solar Company team arrived by private shuttle – atypical of urban parks, it’s safe and accessible to load and unload large parties near McKinley Square – and was briefed by the park’s City-assigned gardener on the day’s projects.
“We focused on removing foxtails, clearing natural pathways, pulling weeds and restoring foliage to the eroded western hillside,” said Book. “We were able to do so much because they dedicated an entire work day to our park.”
Book has received offers of help from individuals, and is determining the most effective way to organize the influx of interest. “Luckily, the volunteers have been very open to being placed into a group of eight random volunteers,” said Book. “We like groups to have at least eight people to respect the gardener’s time and efforts.”
Book is hopeful that renewed interest in McKinley Square will lead to another round of updates in the future, similar to the investment the park saw in 2009, when Friends of McKinley Square Park started to generate neighborhood attention.
“It’s a transitional park,” said Book. “In the last year you really started to see the changing demographics of the neighborhood from the new families and new faces at the park every day; it’s beautiful.”