Major changes for improvement association

Community association looks to recruit younger members.

With upcoming financial troubles and no one to do the heavy lifting, the Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association is trying to reach out to students and younger families in the Prospect Park area. PPERRIA, a volunteer community organization, met Monday to discuss the future of the association, including the lack of younger members compared to their increasing population in the neighborhood. Along with trying to recruit younger members, the association also has to deal with the restructuring of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program which resulted in a loss of funds. âÄúI have worked with young people most of my life and I know particularly that the young people here are busy,âÄù said Dick Poppele, President of PPERRIA . âÄúDonâÄôt get me wrong we get quite a few young people, but in proportion to the numbers that they are in the neighborhood, it is not as many as the older people.âÄù Former association president Florence Littman said at the meeting, âÄúPPERRIA operates exactly as a volunteer neighborhood association should operate. You have a handful of people who do a lot of work and people who come in when things get tough.âÄù Brice Dickson, a manager for the District on Delaware apartment complex, said that he would like to see more connection between the complex and PPERRIA. âÄúWe have over 920 residents,âÄù he said. âÄúIn that population, we have to have someone who is interested in administrative tasks, or planting a tree.âÄù The only time the association had paid staffers was the NRP funded projects that association staffers were working on. However, because those funds are being reallocated, PPERRIA is going to have to find another source of income. âÄúNRP is being reorganized through the city in a way that does not really provide a lot of resources for the neighborhoods anymore,âÄù Poppele said. âÄúItâÄôs something thatâÄôs happening all over the city.âÄù Annual income comes to about $10,000, most of which comes from voluntary donations, but $2,000 comes from a âÄúCitizen EngagementâÄù grant from the city, according to PPERRIAâÄôs February 2009 newsletter. Grants are one thing being considered to fill the gap, but this will take extra time and manpower. âÄúIn order to get those grants you really have to sign up for a big project to get the dollars,âÄù Poppele said. âÄúThatâÄôs not necessarily out of the question.âÄù In order for the association to consider writing a grant proposal, it has to sustain the vitality and livability of the neighborhood. Overwhelmingly, PPERRIA would like to see more, younger volunteers like students living in housing complexes nearby and young families in the neighborhood. Making volunteering a more flexible time commitment and getting the name out there were a few discussed suggestions. The discussion will continue at upcoming meetings. The next PPERRIA meeting is March 23.