Intel(R) JPEG Library, version 1,5,4,36 An Open Letter
to Donors and Potential Donors

January 21, 2003

Dear Friends,

Thank you again for your generous donation to Victory for Kids, the proposed safe, new playground at Albion's Victory Park.  We write to let you know how your donation has helped this important community-driven project. This letter is a little long, because we want to inform you in detail how your money is being spent and to assure you that this project is on track and that the playground will be built this year. A build date is scheduled for September 3-7 (2003), in time for an opening during this fall's Festival of the Forks.

As you recall, the drive to build a new playground began in late 2000, when Valerie Etter took her kids to play at Victory Park and found she could not let them play there because the equipment was unsafe. She was right--earlier that summer a certified playground equipment inspector turned in a report stating that play equipment at Victory Park (and at other Albion parks) was unsafe and should be removed. In an Albion Parks safety report, he called for the removal of several pieces of equipment, sighting "very alarming entrapment, entanglement and protrusion issues."  Over the next year, Citizens for the Victory Park Playground received donations and pledges totaling $53,000 of the estimated $125,000 needed to complete and maintain the playground--from individuals, businesses, churches, service groups and the Albion Community Foundation. Altogether, there were nearly 300 donors such as yourself, not to mention dozens of people who contributed time and materials to this great effort!

Your contribution has allowed us to hire one of the top architectural firms in the nation who specialize in safe, durable playgrounds, Leathers & Associates (see their web site at The firm has constructed 1600 playgrounds over the past 30 years, including examples in Jackson and in Parma, pictured below.


Intel(R) JPEG Library, version 1,5,4,36

These playgrounds are made of treated, kiln-dried lumber, plastic composite lumber, engineered wood fiber and rubber playground surfaces and conform to national and state safety and accessibility standards. Leathers provided a four-part strategy for completing the playground, including a schematic design phase, a design development phase, an organization phase and a construction phase. After completing a schematic plan based on reasonable space and money estimates, the architect in charge of our playground, John Dean, visited Albion in February, 2001, for a Design Day.  The playground design was developed with the help of children from St. John, Crowell, Caldwell, Harrington and the Albion Open/Middle Schools, who offered their ideas and drawings of the sort of playground they wanted.

One of the children consulted, Demetrius Washington, wrote: "I think we should have more stuff so people can have more fun. Families can come and have a picnic. If we had more stuff then we would not have to wait to use something." The children suggested slides, a jungle gym, a western theme, a Tarzan rope, a rocket ship, and even a swimming pool! Dean incorporated many suggestions into the final scale drawing, which is reproduced here.



We are now in the Organization phase of the project: we continue to raise money and have begun to purchase materials. The committee has purchased lumber for a picket fence to surround the structure and has also purchased several special pieces of equipment. Leathers and Associates continues to be in regular contact with the Playground committee and has provided a sourcebook with specific directions as to how to proceed with the final stages of the project.

After materials and architect's fees, $16,000 remains in the Playground account, held by the Albion Community Foundation. A lull in fundraising activity took place between the summer of 2001 and the fall of 2002. Val Etter was unable to continue to lead this terrific effort because of her son's health problems and for a while no one else could afford the time and effort such a large undertaking requires. Currently more than 20 people are sharing responsibility for this community-driven project. New volunteers are joining all the time (please see attached list). Our organizational strategy is to engage people in specific tasks that they would like to do or are especially good at, so that we all make the playground happen together--things as specific as "organize 2 church fundraisers in the next 3 months," or "check to make sure all the lug bolts are fastened properly during 5 shifts of the build," or, let's say, "arrange for 5 separate newspaper articles to appear in the next 3 months," that sort of thing. We believe that this way people will find their volunteering manageable and fun. Of course, we hope that some people will want to choose some more long term, more time-consuming tasks, like "recruit and coordinate volunteer workers for the build."

We are determined to successfully complete what so many citizens of Albion, including yourself, have started. In the past few months, Citizens for Victory Park Playground has received sizeable donations from a recent fundraiser at St. Paul's fall festival, Caster Concepts and also many small donations from citizens concerned that Albion's children have a safe and fun place to play, for a total of $13,800 in new donations. We are also reviewing applications for several grants. Our goal is to raise all the money we need by June 15, 2003. We still need $58,200.

Albion's 108 acres of parkland are impressive for a town our size. The Rieger and Victory Park area is a showpiece of our city, visited and enjoyed by so many families--including the river, tennis courts, skating rink, band shell and picnic shelter. The playground would further improve the park, give kids a safe play to play and families a pleasant place in which to pass the time together. A new, safe playground in Victory Park will benefit the entire Albion community.

Mayor Wheaton, city council members and key city employees have consistently backed this project. The playground will become the property of the city, which has agreed to maintain it.  Citizens for Victory Park playground are providing for this maintenance: 10% of all donations to the park go into the Tillman Cornelius Fund, to be used for regular maintenance and any repairs that might be needed.

Economic challenges have limited the city government's capacity to maintain our parks. Victory for Kids is an opportunity for citizens of Albion to show that we care about our city and that we can maintain it and beautify it ourselves.  The people of Albion have shown again and again that we are willing to make this city a better place. This won't be the only project we will need to take on ourselves if we are to make Albion a better place to live in the coming years. Successful completion of Victory for Kids will be a significant contribution to our ongoing effort to make Albion a great place to live.


Leslie Cavell, General Coordinator

Luti Erbeznik, General Coordinator                            

For more information, contact Leslie or Luti at or or at 629-5101


Money and materials
Coordinator for Donated Materials: Shelly Bagley
Coordinator for Tools:  Dwayne Bagley
Liaison Albion Community Foundation: Michelle Mueller
Liaison City of Albion: Mike Herman
Coordinators for Fundraising: Karen Dobbins, Peg Turner, David Murray 
Coordinators for Purchased Materials:  Dave Locke, Ron Wright 


Public relations
Coordinator for Children's Committee: Rod Ferguson
Coordinators for Public Relations: Beth Williamson, Anne Starr, Lisa Waddell 
School presenters: Anne Starr, Lisa Waddell 
Public relations assistants: Catherine Kerley
Web site Maggie LaNoue / Albion Design


Coordinator for college student volunteers: Jill Mihelich
Coordinator for CPAY Youth Volunteers: Angie Cole
Call-A-Thon assistant: Jake Weber 


Coordinators for Food: Darci Face, Michael Anes, Ann Garrett-Anes
Food handlers: Michael Anes, Ann Garrett-Anes
Construction captains: Tony Starr, Bob Armstrong, Drew Dunham, Doug Rose
Tools controllers: Chris Rohlman, Dwayne Bagley
Security controller: Janice Best    


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