A group of district staff, PTO members, students and residents are working to repair and renew a neighborhood park.
Over the course of two weeks, staff from the district office, Impact Academy at Orchard Lake Elementary School and other buildings have rolled up their sleeves alongside residents of Queen Anne mobile home park to restore an aging playground by fixing and painting playground equipment and beautifying the area.
The goal for the project was to give resident students a safe, welcoming place to play, said Lydia Lindsoe, one of Lakeville Area Public Schools’ student success liaisons who has been working with Queen Anne families for a number of years.
Lindsoe said students who live in the mobile home park had been telling her they no longer used the playground because it had become run down. Lindsoe talked with Dianna Tyson, the mobile home park’s manager, to see if there was a way volunteers could help out.
“I thought it was a wonderful idea,” Tyson said.
Lindsoe then reached out to Tessa Horstmann, a tutor at Impact Academy, who also works with a ministry called HEART, which stands for Hosanna! Emergency Action Response Team, which helps people rebuild following disasters. Recently, the group has looked for more ways to get involved locally, and Horstmann said they loved the idea of helping revitalize the park.
The organization bought the paint and materials, and helped round up volunteers.
For volunteer Mariana Guzman, the project is particularly special.
“There was a lot of weeds before the project began,” said Mariana, who will be entering fourth grade at Impact Academy at Orchard Lake Elementary School this fall. In the weeds’ places, Mariana and her friends have planted flowers, and Mariana’s older sister, older brother and little sister have helped paint equipment.
Mariana said she’s most excited about how the volunteers have painted the playground equipment in vivid colors.
“Volunteering is important and it’s nice to see kids getting involved,” Lindsoe said, adding she hopes the work will have a long-lasting effect that goes beyond improving a playground. “We’re all about community-building, getting to know each other and working together. It makes a huge difference when you work together.”
Other volunteers agreed.
“I love this project. It’s cool. It’s something great for the kids and you’re pulling in the community. I think that’s really what HEART is about,” said Kelly Buesgens, who organizes HEART’s construction team and helped paint on July 27.
For Impact Academy Parent-Teacher Organization member Jon Seybold, helping out was a way to get to meet other parents.
“I heard about it on Facebook and was excited to get more involved beyond where I live,” Seybold said. “I brought my younger daughter who starts Kindergarten next year, and she’s met a new friend. She gets to participate and it means a lot to her, too.”
Tyson said she’s thrilled to see the progress.
“They’ve been working really hard for the last four or five days to get ready for National Night Out [on Tuesday, Aug. 1],” Tyson said. “This is amazing. There have been so many volunteers and residents who’ve helped out. I’m so proud of this project.”