Albion working together

Victory Park Playground to be Built this Fall

This September 3 to September 7, 2003, Victory Park, next to the picnic shelter. Free food, community spirit and a lot of hard, sweaty and rewarding work--the Victory Park playground is going up!

After a lull in the action, a large group of generous and fun-loving parents and grandparents are leading the effort to complete the playground. They need your help. "This is a community project from first to last -- we come up with the money, we get the materials together, use our own tools and we all build it together; our kids need this playground," says Luti Erbeznik, a general coordinator for the project. "Sure we have to raise more money, but the first thing we need is for people to feel part of this effort. It's a huge community effort and to know that we can improve our own community by ourselves is a great feeling. I feel great knowing that my son will have a safe and beautiful place to get some exercise and to play."

The first campaign for the playground, officially named "Victory for Kids," raised over $53,000 through the generosity of over 300 individuals, businesses and church and service groups. The effort began in late 2000, after an Albion Parks safety report called for the removal of several pieces of equipment from the old playground at Victory Park and other city parks, citing "very alarming entrapment, entanglement and protrusion issues."  Val Etter led the effort until critical personal issues forced her to stop.

The Citizens for a Victory Park Playground spent donations wisely. They hired a top architectural firm that specializes in safe, durable playgrounds, Leathers & Associates. The firm has constructed over 1600 playgrounds, including new ones in Jackson and Parma. "We now have a beautiful playground design that the kids really like," says Peg Turner, a long-time kindergarten teacher and a coordinator for the fundraising effort this spring. "At this point, we are approaching manufacturers in the area and our next step is to go to individuals. There are a lot of people around town who have not given yet and I know they will want to give $100 if not more, at the minimum.  People will give now that they see the playground is going to be built this fall."

Turner just accepted a brand new $10,000 donation from Caster Concepts. In business in Albion for 15 years, the company manufactures heavy-duty casters and wheels. Owners Jack Turner and Bill Dobbins feel strongly about the project: "We feel that this is a very important project for the city of Albion at this time, when the city has been challenged in so many ways. We think it's critical that the city has a project that's a huge success and certainly the follow-up to what Kids 'N' Stuff was last year. I think that the Victory for Kids playground is going to be that same kind of project and have even a bigger effect on the community as a whole -- we've had a lot of good fortune and a lot of that has to do with Albion. We think it's our responsibility to give back to Albion what it has given to us."

"It's generosity like this that makes the September build date that much more realistic," says Turner. She is excited that it is all coming together. "Caster Concepts has been an enormous help in this last push for dollars." "We have twenty people on board now as coordinators for different aspects of the project; donated materials, purchased materials, tools, child care and food for the build, etc.," notes Leslie Cavell, also a general coordinator for the project, "we need a volunteer coordinator, volunteers to talk to their community groups about the playground, and lots and lots of people to volunteer to build." For more information, to volunteer or make a donation, call Luti Erbeznik or Leslie Cavell at 629-5101.

Pictured from left to right: Luti Erbeznik, general coordinator for Victory for Kids, Jasen Erbeznik, Dave Murray, Y, Peg Turner, Z and Bill Dobbins, owner of Caster Concepts.





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