Swinging and rocking to help kidsPublished 9:33am Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Most young people wouldn’t spend a gloomy Saturday afternoon volunteering in the rain, but that’s just what a handful of volunteers did one weekend when they transformed a playground in the community they live and work in.
V-Junction, a social-volunteer group sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan, recently threw their second Playground Crawl of 2009 at Elizabeth Park in downtown Eau Claire. About a dozen volunteers spent four hours installing a new swing set and putting a fresh coat of paint on worn and weathered playground equipment at the popular park.
“It’s a beautiful park but it’s been very well used. People use it for graduation parties, birthday parties and family reunions.” said Pam Anstiss, Eau Claire village clerk. “We just don’t have the funding to replace the equipment.”
Busy volunteers had a chance to see the fruits of their labor when Village Mayor Joe Garski’s wife Nancy Garski and residents of Eau Claire came out to Elizabeth Park for the project.
“It was cool to interact with people from the city and see the faces of the people this really affects,” said Sam Reyes, co-founder of V-Junction. “The equipment looks a lot better than it did. The families that use the park and the people that rent it out are really going to benefit from the upgrade.” Anstiss said.
V-Junction is a program of the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan, a United Way Partner Agency. The mission is to promote relationships between local, young professionals while serving the community through volunteerism. V-Junction offers at least two opportunities per month including: a hands-on volunteer event, and a social mixer. The organization has already collaborated with various nonprofit organizations such as the Emergency Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and more.
V-Junction is throwing a rock, benefit concert on Saturday, Sept. 19 at Czar’s 505, 505 Pleasant St., in St. Joseph, to help the area’s young, underprivileged musicians.
Everything from classic rock covers to alternative originals; local bands are showcasing their talents at Czar’s 505, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cost for the public is $5 at the door.
The line-up includes:
• Ron Zelvis 9 p.m.-10 p.m.
• Jester 10 p.m.-12 a.m.
• Sons of Psyience 12 a.m.-2 a.m.
All proceeds from the concert will help pay for music and dance lessons for children living below the poverty line at the Citadel Dance and Music Center in Benton Harbor.
“There are lots of parents in this area who can’t afford lessons for their kids and that’s not right. All kids deserve the opportunity to have an education that comes with studying the arts.” said Ashley Zelvis, event coordinator for V-Junction.
The Citadel Music and Dance Center, founded in 2000, is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing the skills of people from all ages and ethnicities through arts education and performance. “We don’t turn anyone away.” said Susan Dietrich-Reed, Music Director for the Center.
“We offer scholarships for children and parents who can’t afford it. The benefits for kids studying the arts are astounding. They have increased self-confidence, scored higher on tests and a have a better understanding of people and culture.”
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to a bi-weekly email list to keep up-to-date with V-Junction current events, or call Debra at the Volunteer Center (269) 983-0912.