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Lemmon, SD

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Staff at the Lemmon Public Library saw a need to reduce social isolation in town, particularly among older residents. To address this, they set out to improve the library's public gathering space. Project organizers created a new bakery cafe, purchasing folding tables with stacking chairs, an acrylic pastry cabinet, a cake cover and cupcake display, tablecloths and pump pots for coffee. Since the cafe's opening, the library has used new tables and chairs at hundreds of events and the space has accommodated pop-up shops. The opportunity to bake for the cafe led some residents to launch their own baking businesses and one retired baker was inspired to plan a workshop for women starting businesses. Sparked by the success of the cafe, library staff have since pursued other opportunities to expand community space, including providing library patrons with an outdoor area for reading and gathering.

Afton, IA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The City of Afton built a portable parklet, which City staff can easily set up around town. The temporary patio takes up the space of three on-street parking spaces and accommodates tables and chairs for a dozen people. It also includes shade sails to keep visitors out of the sun. Volunteers -- including local high school students -- constructed the parklet out of recycled wooden pallets. Designed to be broken down and stored for winter, the parklet offers extra outdoor seating for local restaurants parklet features shade sails to block out the sun. In addition, the City deploys it on the town square for community events, such as parades and the Fourth of July.

Toledo, OH

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: To transform a vacant lot into a pocket park, Salem Lutheran Church installed benches at the site. Inspired by the improvements, community members contributed donations to construct concrete pads for the benches and add trash receptacles nearby. The Church also built a pergola to provide shade at a nearby bus stop, making it the only stop with shelter in the immediate neighborhood. Project organizers engaged local teenagers to help with installation, who volunteered alongside residents. Salem Lutheran Church has since continued its efforts to revitalize North Toledo, hosting a summer youth program to build a community garden for the neighborhood.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Buffalo, NY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2022

Project Category: Engaging residents in vibrant public places

Description: This project created monthly Jazz Night the Community Center, which provided access to cultural activities and encouraged multigenerational interaction.

Buffalo, NY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Innovative home maintenance, repair and support services

Description: To help low-income families rehabilitate their homes, Habitat for Humanity Buffalo held a series of construction skills trainings. Designed to reach people without a background in construction, the workshops focused on plumbing and electrical work. Project organizers say these education efforts ensure individuals are empowered to undertake critical home repairs. Additionally, the nonprofit wanted to help its volunteers understand the communities they serve. To do this, the organization hosted training sessions on topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Organizers report the sessions informed Home Team volunteers about the history of low-income communities and reinforced the importance of Habitat's mission to construct affordable housing.

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