Who Cares? A Message from the Executive Director

Across the Board is a monthly column authored by members of Freedom Park Conservancy’s Board of Directors. This month’s post was written by Executive Director Laura Hennighausen.

Recently an acquaintance asked what motivated me to take the position as Freedom Park Conservancy’s first Executive Director and I had to think for a moment. Why do I feel drawn to this job? I don’t know… why wouldn’t I? I’ve always loved parks and this park needs a champion!

Laura Hennighausen is the Executive Director of Freedom Park Conservancy.

I remember specific parks from when I was a kid. I remember the playground my grandparents would take us to when we visited them in New Jersey. I remember trying to catch a ground ball during a baseball game at our neighborhood park on Canada Day and the ball popping up and bashing my shin. I remember soaring as high as I could on the swings just so I could jump off to feel like I was flying for a split second.

What I don’t remember is trash. Or erosion. Or invasive plants. Someone else worried about that! Now that I’m older, I know that it takes people like me to make sure kids can grow up with similar memories. 

Now, when I walk through Freedom Park I see litter. I see where the ground is eroding and where kudzu is fighting to take over groves of trees.


But I also see where there could be gardens. I can picture local dance groups performing in the meadow. I can imagine picnics and places to rest.

I believe Freedom Park should be a space where everyone feels comfortable. A place where there is something to be curious about and where you can relax. A place to see friends or get your heart pumping. The park should be filled with laughter, it should be clean, and it should be cared for.

This past Saturday, Freedom Park Conservancy organized a volunteer day. An energetic group collected 15 bags of litter (and two tires!) in just an hour. You might look at that and think “that’s great, a free way to keep the park clean.”  But remember, to make this possible FPC had to spend time creating a sign-up sheet and publishing calls for volunteers with neighborhood associations and on social media. Hours were spent identifying the area for the project and planning logistics, buying supplies, and coordinating to have the collected trash picked up and disposed of after the event. We even worked with an attorney to draft a volunteer release!

We all own Freedom Park. There might be a bunch of trash and who knows how it got there.  In the end what matters is that it’s addressed and that’s why Freedom Park Conservancy exists and why I am proud to lead this organization.

But who cares? Do you? Right now you might be at work. You’re busy. Maybe you have to take kids to soccer this weekend or your in-laws are coming. You have to go to the store. It’s hot. You have allergies. You understand what needs to be done but you don’t have time to get out and volunteer. That’s fine! By simply making a donation to enable us to do this work, you can do your part.

Our motto is Freedom Is Your Park and that’s because it is. It’s yours. It’s mine. It’s Atlanta’s. Help make Freedom Park a place to be proud of – make a donation today.