Who doesn’t love a block party?
They’re fun, simple, inexpensive, and a great way to get to know your neighbours!
That’s precisely why residents of the Clayton Heights neighbourhood in Surrey took to the streets this weekend, for the area’s first Block Party Day.
The more the merrier
What helped make this weekend such a success was linking together several individual parties into a cohesive community celebration.
“It brings people together,” says Leah Funk, Clayton Heights resident and organizer of one of the events that anchored the day.
“It makes people real, instead of a photo on social media. It brings trust and responsibility within a community where people know their neighbors and can look out for one another.
Overall it’s a fun time for everyone to sit back and get to know one another.”
Conversations plant seeds for community growth
Sabrina Mehlhorn would agree.
When she moved to the Clayton neighbourhood five years ago, Sabrina wanted to find ways to get involved in her community. She started following local groups on Facebook so that she could get a feel for what was happening in her backyard. She noticed people expressing their love for farmer’s markets.
Sabrina wasted no time responding to local appetites, founding the Clayton Community Farmer’s Market in 2017.
It’s an idea – and now, a precious community asset – that came about simply by connecting with local people about what could make their neighbourhood even better.
An expert at fostering local love through food, Sabrina organized a potluck as part of Block Party Day. It was another rallying point for Clayton Heights residents to gather, adding to the strength and buzz of the party.
“The farmer’s market and block parties are a great way to connect with neighbours, strengthen the community spirit and make new friendships,” says Sabrina.
“The neighbourhood of Clayton is very dense so people should come together more often and enjoy each other’s company instead of just living side by side.”
How United Way plays a supporting role
Both Sabrina and Leah’s events were supported by the Clayton Heights Local Love Fund. The United Way fund supports small projects that have a big impact in the neighbourhood.
The Local Love Fund is just one component of United Way’s Hi Neighbour initiative in Clayton. Through Hi Neighbour initiatives, citizens are supported and empowered to tackle local issues together and strengthen their communities.
Several other Clayton Heights residents have taken up the call, leveraging support from United Way to share their skills and dreams for their neighbourhood. People like Kristy Hill of Umbrella Squared Design. Kristy used support from the Clayton Heights Local Love Fund to create claytonheightscommunity.com, a positive outlet for community members to share events, stories, and photos.
“I strongly believe a website like this, block parties, and hyper-local events can truly bring a community together,” says Kristy.
“Some of my best friends, who will be in my life forever, are my neighbours and in my community. I believe events like a block party could do the same thing for others. Meet their best friends they didn’t even know they had yet!“
Beyond nearby programs or community services, the website is just one more way locals can connect.
Because when programs and services are paired with the passion and actions of local citizens, we can create truly community-wide solutions to local challenges.
Here for a good time.. and so much more
Block parties are fun, but they can also generate deep community benefits.
“We know that when people are connected to their neighbours, they feel safer, less socially isolated, and healthier,” says Misha Golston, Community Engagement Specialist at United Way of the Lower Mainland.
Misha credits everyone who stepped up to help organize the event for their leadership and passion for community.
“Clayton’s Block Party Day is hopefully the first of many community gatherings that initiate decrease feelings of social isolation in the neighbourhood.”
Neighbours connecting each other through making memories and sharing meaningful experiences are the fabric that strong communities are made of.”
Check out the latest community happenings at claytonheightscommunity.com
To sign up for community updates, or to apply to the Local Love Fund, click here.