Bloomingdale Church, which housed a number of Bloomingdale Park District programs (including preschool) in the 2018-19 school year, was awarded Best Partnership by the Illinois Association of Park Districts at the Annual Best of the Best Awards Gala held November 1 at Chevy Chase Country Club in Wheeling. Picture: (From left) Illinois Association of Park District Chairman Kevin Dolan, Bloomingdale Church Children's Ministry Director Morgan Lang, Bloomingdale Park District Executive Director Carrie Fullerton, Bloomingdale Park Board Commissioner Mike Vogl, Bloomingdale Park District Director of Communications & Marketing Josh Hendricks and Bloomingdale Park Board President Buzz Puccio.
When the Bloomingdale Park District passed a $9.9 million referendum in 2016, it included a complete renovation of its rec center. While Park District commissioners, staff and residents were excited and joyous over the good news, there was one problem. With its primary programming space unavailable, the Park District would have to endure a year with virtually no recreation and/or office space.
Where would the BPD hold its programs? While it managed to utilize a room at its Museum and a small space at nearby Stratford Square Mall, there was still no place for preschool, before and after school care, and numerous other programs.
Bloomingdale Church stepped up in the largest way possible, offering unused space in its facility to house the Park District’s preschool, before and after school, and other early childhood programs for the 2018-19 school year.
In addition, the Church provided office space for a Park District recreation supervisor and granted access to its gymnasium to run a variety of youth sports programs.
“The Bloomingdale community relies heavily upon the Park District to provide safe, quality early childhood programs and before/after school care to our youngest residents,” said Bloomingdale Park District Executive Director Carrie Fullerton. “We are incredibly grateful to our friends at Bloomingdale Church for housing some of our largest, most critical program areas during what was a very challenging time.”
The Church offering up its space was the culmination of a partnership that has grown stronger and stronger over the past 7-8 years. “When another organization in our community needed help with a special opportunity, we were glad to assist,” said Bloomingdale Church Administrative Pastor Daniel Reimenschneider. “Bloomingdale Church is in the community and for our community. We are proud to be a safe and welcoming place for all.”
The partnership began when the Park District reached out to local churches in a marketing effort, as well as to simply be a good neighbor. Of the multiple churches contacted, only a few responded, one of them being Bloomingdale Church, a Christian & Missionary Alliance church located less than a mile from the Park District’s rec center and water park. It is also across the street from one of the District’s most popular parks.
After an initial meeting, the Church and the District agreed to cross market programs with a simple exchange of flyers. Then the Church offered to help out at the Bloomingdale Park Foundation’s annual 5K in 2014 and have volunteered every year since.
The partnership really solidified in 2017 when the Church approached the Park District with a request. The venue where the Church held its annual Easter Egg Hunt was unavailable. Could the Church merge its Easter event with the Park District’s Bunny Bash? With the Church providing an additional 20+ face painters, 10+ balloon artists, and eight ice cream scoopers to assist with gallons upon gallons of free ice cream provided by the Church, the answer was easy. Of course!
The following fall, the Church provided approximately 10 volunteers who helped with various games and activities at the Park District’s Annual Fall Fest. Shortly thereafter, they assisted at a Halloween event along with the Village of Bloomingdale and Bloomingdale Public Library. The Church is now a regular attendee at these annual community-wide special events.
“Bloomingdale Church has been a great addition to our largest events,” said Recreation Supervisor Rebecca Defrancesco. “Not only have they added entertainment value to our events, but they’ve also increased attendance by also bringing a lot of their following.”Bloomingdale Church has also benefitted from the relationship.
- Two-hundred thirty-plus children attended weekly programming at Bloomingdale Church, and approximately 800 people were in its facility each week. That’s tremendous exposure.
- Church classrooms had a 110% increase of time use.
- Pre-use facility modifications, including installation of additional cabinets and master key system, were implemented prior to the Park District moving in.
- After-use facility renovations, including carpet replacement, patching/painting, and parking lot resurfacing, occurred.
- The Church’s Trunk-or-Treat event in October of 2018 had higher than expected attendance primarily due to Park District staff inviting preschool families to the event.
- Bloomingdale Church had a 24% increase in attendance (2018 to 2019) at its yearly summer camp primarily due to attendance by BPD preschool families.