If you’re looking for an outstanding example of how a private nonprofit organization can work hand-in-hand with government agencies and community volunteers, take a closer look at the work being done by Build Lebanon Trails.
The organization, founded in 2005, now numbers some 500 volunteers. In essence, Build Lebanon Trails works as a nonprofit auxiliary to the city parks system, providing elbow grease and fundraising know-how to help maintain and expand the city’s trail system.
In its seven years, Build Lebanon Trails has racked up success after success, including the development of a trails system that can be followed from the city’s northern boundary at Samaritan Health Services to Cheadle Lake Park/Weirich Drive on its southeastern corner. (The organization, which was featured in a Monday story in the Democrat-Herald, also enjoys what is arguably the best acronym of any organization in the mid-valley.)
The organization has an ambitious agenda planned for 2013, and Rod Sell, the president of the organization’s board, said he believed this year could be the best one ever for Build Lebanon Trails.
We hope so. And the success the organization has enjoyed thus far speaks volumes about the power of volunteers to improve their communities, especially if they’re willing to actively seek collaborative partnerships.
Collaboration has been part of the DNA of Build Lebanon Trails from its start: The organization was founded as part of the Community Health Improvement Partnership and Healthy Active Lebanon, sponsored by Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital.
Over the years, Build Lebanon Trails has worked closely with the city of Lebanon’s Parks and Trees Board and its Bike and Pedestrian Safety Committee — and, really, any other organization or entity that has something to offer and shares the overall goal of improving the quality of life in Lebanon.
It would have been easy — and all-too-common — for Build Lebanon Trails to try to win some turf and then protect it at all costs. It would have been just as easy for other organizations to undermine the ambitions of the new kid on the block.
It doesn’t look as if that’s been an issue with Build Lebanon Trails or any of the other organizations that have worked with BLT over the years. And, certainly, each successful effort by the partners helps pave the trail for the next effort.
Certainly, branches of government facing difficult financial conditions are ready to embrace this kind of private-public partnership. (The recent county purchase of the Weyerhaeuser building is another excellent example.)
BLT’s work offers a blueprint — a trail map, if you will — that shows other organizations how they can create similar partnerships and build foundations for similar successes. (mm)