By Susan Thompson
Lake Panorama Times
Friends of Lake Panorama is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity dedicated to supporting recreational amenities at Lake Panorama. The first meeting of the Friends of Lake Panorama board of directors was Dec. 3, 2013. An application for nonprofit status was filed with the IRS in January 2014 and approved in July 2014.
The charity is governed by a volunteer, seven-member board of directors. In this month’s Q&A, Jan Reinicke, current Friends president, talks about current projects and future goals.Q. A year ago, Friends kicked off a $70,000 fundraising campaign to purchase new play equipment for Shady and Boulder Beach. Give us an update on that effort.
A. I’m happy to say we reached our playground fundraising goal in late October. By July, we were far enough along the Friends board voted to go ahead with the purchase of the equipment for Shady Beach.
That arrived at Lake Panorama in early October and was installed just ahead of one of our October snowstorms. Featured are a multi-faceted play set, three swings, and a freestanding “spring rider” designed to accommodate a physically challenged child, that also has room for two children.
The LPA maintenance staff will be finalizing the mulching and grading there once the ground is frozen, and the playground will open. Hopefully there will be some warmer days yet in 2020 and into next spring for children to begin to enjoy this new playground.
The Boulder Beach play equipment will be ordered soon, for delivery in the spring. The gray mountain and play set currently there will remain. A spring rider like the one at Shady Beach will be added. A new playground nearby will include a play set with features geared to both older and younger kids, plus three swings.
We will be posting a sign at each of the playgrounds showing donors who gave $500 or more. If someone still is interested in helping with this project, we have room for both more benches and more spring riders, so we welcome additional donations.Q. Friends recently launched a new fund drive for a proposed dog park. Tell us about that.
A. To help prioritize future projects, the Friends board of directors conducted a survey in April 2019 to gather input from Lake Panorama Association members. A total of 171 people responded to the six-question online survey over a three-week period.
Ten potential projects were listed in the survey. Questions were asked to help prioritize those projects, based on survey respondents ranking their top priorities, plus the likelihood of them both using and financially supporting each project. Based on those results, the playground upgrades we’re doing now were chosen as the first project.
Also getting some attention was the possible development of an LPA dog park. While a dog park didn’t rank as high in the survey as other projects, there was strong support from a segment of the LPA membership. For that reason, the Friends board recruited volunteers to serve on a dog park task force to study location, design, costs, and rules.
That group shared their proposal with the Friends board this summer, which endorsed the plan and sent it to the LPA board of directors for consideration. At its August meeting, the LPA board agreed Friends could raise funds for a dog park. All funds will need to be raised with support from dog park enthusiasts, as LPA will only be partnering with in-kind contributions such as running a water line.
The members of the dog park task force took a very high-profile role once the project was approved by the Friends and LPA boards. Their original plan was costed at $50,000 with the inclusion of all desired amenities, so the Friends board set a goal of $25,000 to be raised by May 1 to make it viable. The Board believed it could be scaled back if necessary and add the additional amenities as more funds were raised.
What resulted was a group of people who recruited other dog lovers to the cause and successfully organized a fundraising event on Oct. 17 at the LPN, raising $6,225 with a dog walk, golf tournament, raffle, auction and reception. It was a great display of team work. Total contributions are now $18,000.
There is a lot of hard work remaining to reach the fundraising goal but the enthusiasm remains as additional events and appeals are planned for this year and next. Most importantly, it demonstrates what a small group of committed people with some well-defined goals can accomplish to make their community a better place for them and their furry friends.Q. What are the various ways people can donate to Friends?
A. First, I want to remind everyone that all donations are tax-deductible, and donors receive a confirmation letter for tax purposes. Statistics indicate a high percentage of charitable contributions are made in the last few weeks of the year, so we’re looking forward to additional contributions coming in to support additional benches or spring riders at the playgrounds on the beaches or help make the dog park a reality.
There are several options. One easy way is to clip the coupon from the Friends ad in this issue of the Lake Panorama Times, fill it out and mail it with a check to Friends of Lake Panorama, P.O. Box 488, Panora, IA 50216. Or simply include a note with your check so we know how you want your donation used, and mail to the same address.
On the Friends website — friendsoflakepanorama.org — there is a donation form that provides more details. This form can be printed, completed, and mailed with a check. Donations also can be made by credit card on the Friends website.
Donations of securities (stocks, mutual funds, etc.) are welcome, as are direct IRA qualified charitable distributions — for donors over age 70 ½ who are required to take forced IRA distributions. There are potential tax-saving benefits when considering either of these direct donation strategies. For information, contact Kristen Crouthamel, financial advisor at GCSB Investment Center, at 641-755-2799 or firstname.lastname@example.org
.Q. Are there other efforts underway as a result of the Friends survey?
A. Yes, the survey helped the Friends board identify other areas of interest. In 2021, we plan to give attention to additional beach amenities, walking trails and a disc golf course. All of the ideas we will be pursuing came to us from the survey and were expanded on by volunteer committees. Many hours of work went into looking at the possibilities for improving the recreational opportunities here at Lake Panorama.
The survey was an extremely valuable tool for us. We learned we have an incredibly engaged community with some diverse interests. The lake and golf courses are, of course, the center of much activity but people are interested in adding other amenities such as the dog park and walking trails
As we proceed to work on these other priorities, we hope to engage more new people willing to step forward, do the planning work and assist with raising the necessary funds. If you have a particular interest, we’d like to hear from you and welcome your interest and involvement.
As we look forward to new projects and celebrate the past accomplishments of beach playgrounds, sports courts and the upgrading of Panorama West with an estate gift, the board has reflected on our need to build a sustainable organization for the future.
We have for the last few years been very project focused with some very good results, and now need to ensure we have a vibrant Friends organization well into the future. We are hoping our donor base can expand and we can seek funds specifically for organizational and administrative purposes. We know people feel good about supporting the projects closest to their heart, but we’re hoping there are LPA members who appreciate the good work being done and can just help support our ongoing expenses. Those donations add to the good of the community, too.Q. What kind of impact do you think Friends of Lake Panorama has had so far on the Lake Panorama community, and can have in the future?
A. Fundraising began in October 2014. In May 2016, Friends completed an $80,000 fundraising campaign to build the Sunset Beach playground, with the LPA providing an additional $50,000. The playground equipment was installed in mid-July that year. A year later, Friends had raised $75,000 for sports courts at Boulder Beach. The LPA board agreed to provide matching funds and the sports courts opened in mid-July 2018.
In August 2017, Friends of Lake Panorama received $473,000 from the estate of James and Joyce McLuen to be used at the Panorama West golf course. That money transformed an already nice golf course into something very special.
One impact I think this estate gift had on Friends was for our board to establish and test a protocol for handling future estate gifts. And I think we passed that first test with flying colors. The McLuens’ generous gift is a wonderful example of long-time Lake Panorama residents who cared about this particular recreational amenity and made a decision to help support something they loved by including a bequest in their will.
We hope this gift will encourage others to think about the future impact they can have on recreational amenities at Lake Panorama, either through an estate gift, some other financial planning mechanism, or a direct donation now.
There have been a few smaller projects — renovation of the Lake Panorama National conference center dining room in memory of Dr. David Wang, a rain garden at Panorama West, and several memorial benches.
Friends of Lake Panorama is the perfect opportunity to forge a strong partnership with the Lake Panorama Association to improve the recreational opportunities here at the lake. Working together, we have the potential to really improve the quality of life for current and future residents. While the LPA’s focus, out of necessity, needs to be on safety, security and infrastructure needs, Friends of Lake Panorama can be a catalyst and support group focusing on the amenities our community members desire.
Our working relationship with the LPA is a good model as we move forward. The LPA board has provided financial contributions when possible and many in-kind contributions. LPA staff have spent many hours helping make each of the projects come to be a part of life at Lake Panorama.
We are proud of our commitment to engage LPA community members in establishing priorities and continuing our work to provide additional amenities. We appreciate your support and look forward to working with you to raise the necessary funds to complete additional projects as well as build a strong Friends organization for the future.