The Friends of Bethlehem Parks Logo

Who We Are

In the spring of 2012, the idea of a Bethlehem Parks and Recreation "friends group" grew out of the work of the Town of Bethlehem's citizen budget advisory team. The goal was to form a group to work with the Parks and Recreation Department to improve Bethlehem parks, recreational programming and their usership — by raising funds, organizing volunteers and increasing awareness. A steering committee came together, and in early 2013, Friends of Bethlehem Parks and Recreation, Inc. was organized under the New York State Not-for-profit Corporation Law with an eight-member board of directors. Later that year, the Internal Revenue Service determined that the group is a public charity, tax-exempt pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. The Friends group is also registered with the Charities Bureau of the Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York.

Since then, the Friends group has participated in various activities and events, including:

  • Organizing Bethlehem’s annual I Love My Park Day

  • Creating and managing the Bethlehem Parks and Recreation Commemorative Tree & Bench Program

  • Maintaining a Scholarship Fund to help residents in need participate in Parks and Recreation activities

  • Assisting the Parks and Recreation Department by …

    • Raising funds for park improvements and programs

    • Enlisting volunteers for Parks and Recreation projects

    • Researching policy options

    • Sharing information about Parks and Recreation events and programs

The Friends board generally meets in the evening on the first Tuesday of each month via Zoom. Meetings will be posted on the calendar page of this website. The public is welcome to attend; email us or fill out our contact form to request access.

Our Mission

Friends of Bethlehem Parks and Recreation is a collaborative partner with the Town of Bethlehem Parks and Recreation Department, working to protect, enhance and expand its recreation activities and parks to improve the quality of life for all residents.

We Believe

We believe that vibrant parks and outstanding recreation activities are essential to the high quality of life in our community. We believe that quality parks and recreation activities improve the health and cultural well-being of our residents and increase the Town’s value as a community and its economic competitiveness.

Our Guiding Principles

The Friends of Bethlehem Parks and Recreation…

  • an enabler for bringing new resources — funding, volunteers and stewards — to the Town of Bethlehem Parks and Recreation Department, as well as help to market and promote its activities.

  • a conduit for ideas and feedback from residents, park patrons and program participants. We will solicit public input and will identify best practices and ideas from other governmental and non-governmental entities.

  • a champion of making parks and recreation resources available to all residents, regardless of age, income or other factors. We will ensure that the activities we support represent all segments of our community.

  • a convener for bringing diverse groups together to explore shared resources, cost savings and other efficiencies.

If you wish to contribute to the work of this organization, we welcome your participation. Please contact us.

Our Board

  • Joan Gavrilik, President

  • Mary Lyn Koval, Vice President

  • Nan Lanahan, Secretary

  • Pete deVries, Treasurer

  • Jason Gallo, Administrator, Bethlehem Parks and Recreation Department

  • Alan Lobel

  • Nate Parker

  • Kimberleigh Phelan