Thinking back to your childhood, chances are you probably grew up roaming the neighborhood with strict instructions from your mom not to come back until dinnertime. Like many other children, I spent endless afternoons with neighborhood kids creating simple games, playing at the park, or soaring from a homemade rope swing attached to an old oak tree.

Although it seemed like a mindless way to pass the time, little did I realize how much I was learning while playing. It wasn’t a formal education, but rather I learned that if I slipped down a hill, I needed stand up and crawl my way back up to the top. I learned that if I gathered a few friends, we could move heavy branches and create a play fort to lookout for friends and foes. I watched rain pour down my driveway and became an environmental engineer as I designed an elaborate series of dams and streams.

It is these fond memories, and a firm belief in the importance of spending time outside that led to the desire to support parks, recreation and open space in American Canyon. Together with a group of community volunteers, the ACCPF was formed in March 2015. Fast forward a year and half, and we have grown and made significant contributions to our community.

This past year has been a whirlwind of activity for the Foundation. We kicked off our Wild American Canyon series with several successful lectures about local wildlife. On the 4th of July, we brought over 70 people to Newell for a 1/2 mile hike to view fireworks from the hillside. We held our second annual Pumpkin Patch at the Pool where it rained again; and the kids loved it! It seems that kids, rain, swimming, and pumpkins go well together.

We attended community events to talk with people about our beautiful open spaces and recreational opportunities around town. To this day, we are proud to foster a sense of community through parks and open space.

But most fulfilling achievement of all was our Evening at the Ruins fundraiser in September. Over 250 people gathered at the old American Canyon basalt and cement ruins, and future site of our town center to support our mission. We raised over $64,000 and touched hundreds of people with our message of health and wellness through parks and open space.

As I reflect on the growth of the ACCPF, I can’t help but think of the incredible people in our community. Our success is due in part to the support of American Canyon residents who love parks and want to be a part of something for our town. Another big part of our success is our hardworking and innovative Board. As I write this, we have just wrapped up another election cycle and are on task to welcome three new board members!

It is clear to me that the ACCPF has found a place in our community. We look forward to many years of supporting our growing city. Before we look too far ahead, we need to reflect and celebrate our successes for the year.

For now, grab a cup of coffee, find a quiet space outside and read through our 2016 Impact Report. I hope you will be inspired to donate, join, volunteer or support ACCPF this year.

Remember that kid in you? The one that spent hours outside running about the neighborhood? He/she would thank you for it – and so will we!!