Richard has fond memories of going to parks as a child. He can still recall every detail of the ones that are the most special to him. So when he took a tour of The Salvation Army’s Towers Center of Hope, and the Red Shield Lodge shelter for women and families, the playground made an impression on him – but not for the right reasons. It was old, in disrepair, and clearly in need of some love. After he went home the playground kept coming up in his mind. Finally he decided that he needed to do something about it.
“I went home and I guess it was two or three days before I started thinking about it again. And I thought, you know, I could do something that would be better. I made my proposal, and it was accepted, and here we are today.”
Richard could have just written a check and felt good about the difference he made. But Richard isn’t that kind of fellow. He researched the best playgrounds, the best building materials, and imagined what would make for the best playground experience for the children, drawing from his own happy memories. And when the time came to tear out the old playground and build the new, Richard put in hours of his own sweat equity.
The result of his labor of love is incredible. “Hope Park” is now a vibrant and engaging playground of the highest quality. The children who stay at the Red Shield Lodge now bound out of the doors and play with abandon on a playground created with an enormous level of care.
Richard designed the entire experience of the playground with intention. “What I tried to do here was to incorporate some of the things that I remember from the days when I visited parks. We’ve incorporated a mural on the perimeter wall which has some phrases and inspirational words that hopefully the children and parents can take with them. Maybe it will be inspirational enough that it will change their lives a little bit.”
At the center of this project for Richard from beginning to end was the children. “Really, the kids here are the innocent victims of their particular situation. I thought if I could turn a frown into a smile, that would be an achievement. Who knows, maybe they’ll be brought back someday having remembered the good times that they had here and want to be a part of this organization is some fashion. You never know where things like this will lead.”