The day I met Roberta Schwarz I was struck by her passion: For the environment, for education and for the community in general. Roberta Schwarz isn’t a famous celebrity, but her actions are much more important than any person seen on the cover of a tabloid. She is a person who evicts change in the community.
Schwarz is the co-founder of a cause, founded in 2005, called Neighbors for a Livable West Linn. She, along with her husband, Ed, dedicated their time and efforts into one mission: “Preserving the quality of life found in this city.” This is done through their efforts in maintaining The White Oak Savanna nature park (WOS), donating computers to families in need, and spreading information on neighborhood issues to the public.
There aren’t many people who would give up time and effort to preserve a town that is becoming more commercialized every year, but it was for this reason that both Schwarz and her husband decided to advocate for their communities rights. In 2005 they were hiking through The White Oak Savanna in West Linn only to notice that the surrounding area was surrounded by red tape. When they inquired for more information they learned that the nature park was to be turned into a development.
“We had to step up to the plate,” Schwarz said.
Through city documents Schwarz and her husband found multiple ways the codes didn’t mesh. They took their findings to the city council- and won.
Now their goal is to acquire and maintain all 9 acres of WOS. Their work and quick thinking saved WOS, which can no longer be developed.
6 years later they are still advocating for WOS by holding craft fairs, concerts, 5k’s and walkathons to raise money for the cause. Advertising for these events are purely word of mouth, besides emails Schwarz sends out to her contact list of approximately 400 people.
“Build up credibility in the community” is Schwarz advice.
Credibility is the key to becoming an accountable leader who can get people to events, such as ones held in honor of WOS . This is a skill Schwarz has gotten very good at in recent years fundraising for NLWL. These skills are illustrated at the event The Second Annual Run/Walk for WOS which Schwarz and her husband organized, and is the single biggest fundraiser for the Savanna. She raised $2,000 for the Savanna.
The event which occurred, April 14th 2013, brought in approximately 80 people, who ran or walked for the cause. This number was up 20 from last year, which brought in 60 people. Each runner paid approximately 25 dollars to participate. The winners recieved prices from Nike, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Wilson, Columbia, and other local stores. The money made at the race goes toward maintaining and purchasing WOS, along with hiring the NW Youth Corps to help with the maintenance of the property.
The foundation has currently raised 1 million dollars out of their goal of 9. Most of the money was donated by The City of West Linn, Oregon Parks and Recreation and Metro Online. However, NLWL raised the last one thousand of the million.
Roberta Schwarz vision for NLWL is changing the West Linn community for the better in areas such as the environment, and education . Schwarz saw something that needed to change and made it her mission to fix it. She hasn’t stopped making a difference in her community since.