Here Say: Your Stories about Community, Told at Douglass Park

Jun 17, 2015

Here Say is a project in community storytelling. We travel to a new place each week and ask people to share true stories about things we all experience: love, family, learning and more. To see where we've been, check out our interactive map. And to hear your favorite stories from this season, you can find our free podcast on itunes.

Elfonta Stevens told us that there’s a family ­friendly side to the park that’s often forgotten about amidst reports of crime.

 "There’s been bad things that happened down here, but there’s bad things that happen everywhere. So how could this park be judged more than anywhere else? I used to love coming to Douglass Park when I was a kid because my friends was there, their mothers was there, the people that took care of me and looked out for me. The people that looked out for my family was here. This park has a lot of good memories in it, there’s a lot of good people down here. Even though some of them might drink or some of them might do whatever they do, it’s a lot of good people that come down here every day and it’s a lot of love that goes on down here."


Sarah Smith with her daughter at Douglass Park.
Credit Hope Kirwan / KBIA

We met Sarah Smith at the splash park where her children were playing. She says her family quickly found a strong sense of community after a move from Chicago to Columbia.


"We kind of joke about it because in a year here we know more people in our community and our neighborhood then we knew in six years in Chicago. Like when we first moved here, she’s two, and I had a really hard time finding a daycare that would take her just two days a week because I only worked two days a week. So I had met like three neighbors and I call each of them and literally I was kind of blown away. They’re each like, well, I have a friend that does daycare and let me call her and I would talk to that person and they would be like no I’m full but let me give you another name. I was surprised by how everyone kind of went out of their way to help us and they barely knew us."


Chris Allen
Credit Hope Kirwan / KBIA

Chris Allen was volunteering and serving lunch to children in the park as he told us why giving back to the community is important to him.


"You could say these are selfish reasons but to me it just makes me feel good just to get back and to care. I think when you foster that sense of caring within the community you can’t help but feel that you’re cared about as well, as a member and an individual in the community."


Officer Renee Wilbarger
Credit Hope Kirwan / KBIA
 Police Officer Renee Wilbarger is part of the Columbia Police Force's community outreach unit. 

"The Community Outreach Unit is a brand new unit that was started a couple of months ago. Basically what we do is we're trying to expound upon the success that two prior officers had in Douglass Park and take that out throughout the entire community of Columbia and basically help people build relationships within their neighborhoods and within their community to strengthen it, allow people to meet other resources, and really try to bring the community together to help solve some of the issues that they might face." For more stories about community, check out our interactive map here.