By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE - All organizers and volunteers with Lincoln Park Main Street wanted was a program that could revitalize their small community in Fort Pierce.
Now, with two state recognitions in less than six months, the 6-year-old nonprofit knows it's on the right track.
"We're growing membership, and creating even more events and activities," said Pamela Carithers, Lincoln Park Main Street program manager.
"We wanted to put a new image and new face on the organization."
In May, Ken Detzner, Florida's secretary of state, announced Lincoln Park Main Street received the Florida Main Street Program of the Month award.
"Lincoln Park is a culturally and historically rich Main Street community," Mr. Detzner said in a press release. "(Lincoln Park Main Street) has developed impressive events and offered invaluable support to businesses in their community."
What started out as a neighborhood program has since helped to attract 13 new businesses and 70 jobs to the area, while more than 60 volunteers have contributed more than 2,000 volunteer hours to the organization.
"It's been a slow process," Ms. Carithers said.
She grew up in the Lincoln Park area. A graduate of Florida A&M University, she returned to the area two years ago to be the organization's program manager.
"We've restructured the program, and started a website and Facebook page," she said.
The main event that began last year is the organization's Jazz on Moore's Creek, a quarterly event that allowed the community to gather and listen to music.
As a result of tremendous support for the event from the residents and businesses, Ms. Carithers was able to travel to Dade City the week of Sept. 10 to accept an award at the annual Florida Main Street Conference for Outstanding Special Event of the Year.
"We needed this for the organization," she said. "It's a good jump start for what we want to accomplish."
Over the summer, the organization hosted a debate series for local candidates campaigning for office in St. Lucie County.
And there's a lot going on for the organization in the next few months.
It started on Sept. 22, when a choir sing-off was held for area choirs at Westside Baptist Church. The top three choirs groups will perform in the organization's annual benefit, the Gospel Explosion, being held on Oct. 27 at the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce.
Also in October is when the organization's now-monthly event, Jazz on Moore's Creek, begins. The event starts at 5:30 p.m., with music running from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. There will be free parking, and while residents can bring lawn chairs, VIP seating will be available that provides seats, food and drinks.
As for the future, Ms. Carithers said she will continue the focus of building memberships with residents and partnerships with area businesses.
"We want to preserve the historic values," she said. "And we want to show what a great community Lincoln Park is."
For more information about the Lincoln Park Main Street Program, Jazz on Moore's Creek or the Gospel Explosion, contact the main street office by calling (772) 462-2481 or by going online to www.lincolnparkmainstreet.org.