Photo by Danny Fulgencio

David Klempin and Nola Rae Smith started the Friends of Oak Cliff Parks in 2002 because City of Dallas budget cuts had left many neighborhood parks in disrepair, particularly in the southern sector, for years.

The gardening buddies started out planting rose bushes and wound up kicking off a movement that would transform and preserve our neighborhood’s historic parks.

Since then, the group has won numerous awards from the National Garden Clubs, and they’ve taken on restoration projects that will resonate for decades to come.

The group donates plants and other materials to the parks and provides about 4,000 hours of volunteer work per year as part of its mission to maintain Oak Cliff’s historic parks — Kiest, Founders, Lake Cliff and Kidd Springs.

And it’s not always just gardening.