Written By: Stephanie Mueller, Communications
A child’s laugh can be a welcome beacon of light in the darkest of situations. As The Salvation Army Family Haven transitional home embarks on a major playgroundconstruction project in partnership with Boeing on Sept. 22, they hope to bring that light to the temporary residents of the home. With a total of 74 beds, all of which are generally full, according to Shelter Administrator, Leslie Mar’na, Family Haven offers stays up to four months for single women, single women with children, single men with children, married couples, and married couples with children. Tom Kovach, The Salvation Army’s Associate Director of Corporate Relations, says the playground improvement is a necessary step towards the comfort and happiness of the residents of Family Haven.“This is their home for a couple of months,” he said, “but it doesn’t look like a home.”The success of a playground build in April 2011 at the Temple Worship and Community Center in South City spurred the idea for an improved playground at Family Haven.
The playground at Family Haven will serve a unique purpose from the Temple location, though, as it will explicitly serve the clients of the home while Temple serves the
residential community surrounding the center, as well. Recent improvements to Family Haven’s basketball court, the former of which had consisted of two tattered goals and a pot-hole plagued parking lot, also contributed to plans for a new playground. Due to some generous donors, the full court now includes regulation lines and a smooth surface.
Mar’na, who describes the court transformation as, “phenomenal,” said that the new playground is the next step for allowing a good stay to the 40-45 children that are
typically housed at Family Haven. “The newer playground will make it safer and more enjoyable,” Mar’na said. In addition to Boeing’s 30 volunteers, Labor Ready will be providing an additional 7 volunteers to assist with the Boeing Playground Build Day. The playground equipment will be provided at a low cost by Dream Play Recreation. H.B.D. Construction will be providing consulting services at no charge for the build, as well. In kind donations by Collins and Hermann, Inc., who will be fixing a falling fence, and Sherwin-Williams, who will be providing paint for the project, top off the collaborative efforts.
Mar’na sees this collaboration of businesses as a chance to show the community what Family Haven is doing to help families in the St. Louis area. “We have all of these new partners to work with and to learn about Family Haven,” Mar’na said. Beginning at 8 a.m., the build is projected to take approximately six hours, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2:30 p.m. The Salvation Army is encouraging the community to help celebrate the build with a donation of $10 a month. “This money will be designated for the women and children of Family Haven so that they can be as successful as we know they can be,” Kovach said. The cost of the playground, prior to donations and discounts, is $15,000, a number cut in half by donors and supporters. The remaining cost will be paid for by private donations. Mar’na noted that tentative plans are in place following the playground build to create a community garden that will allow the children housed at Family Haven to get involved by growing and caring for the plants, as well.
The Salvation Army sees a home as more than four walls and a roof. It is seen as a place of laughter, love, and success, ideas that uphold the Family Haven shelter and will ideally prosper with the new playground addition.