Laurelville installs new playground set
MOUNT PLEASANT, PA (June 27, 2012)—Laurelville Mennonite Church Center recently installed a new playground set, just in time for the busy summer months ahead at the camp and conference center.
The Regional Family YMCA of Laurel Highlands donated the used equipment in advance of some capital improvements taking place on its campus this summer.
“We were purchasing new playground equipment, and we didn’t like the idea of taking (our old equipment) to a scrap yard,” explained Steve Simon, executive director at the YMCA located in between Mount Pleasant and Scottdale.
Maynard Brubacher, a regular volunteer for both organizations, initiated the collaboration at a local Rotary Club meeting when he learned of the YMCA’s capital improvement plans and Laurelville’s need for new playground equipment. Laurelville executive director John Denlinger is also a Rotarian who is completing his term as president of the Mount Pleasant chapter.
Simon views the partnership between the YMCA and Laurelville as a natural fit. “I think we are very similar,” he said. “Both organizations are dealing with children, adults, seniors and whole families in a variety of different ways. There are very few organizations that do that.”
According to Denlinger, children and families will enjoy the improvements to the playground area located between the swimming pool and the dining hall. “We are excited about the new playground,” said Denlinger. “One of our goals is to continue to grow our outreach to young families and children. A safe play area contributes significantly to this.”
The play set features a variety of components—numerous slides and ladders, a sloped climbing wall, a monkey bar traverse and a firepole—all interconnected by a series of stairs and bridge crossings. Also included in the donation was a new swing set.
The playground equipment donation came with a proviso that Laurelville would fund, supervise and provide the labor for its removal and transport. Supervised by Laurelville director of facilities and grounds Gene Hartzler, this process entailed sawing off the metal poles that served to stabilize the unit at ground level. Once removed, Laurelville hauled away the equipment in sections and installed it at its new location using posts that had been anchored in the earth using cement.
Jane Rittenhouse, Laurelville volunteer coordinator, said the operation couldn’t have happened without the generosity of willing volunteers. “Many hands were needed to guide the large pieces as they were lowered into specific locations and holes. Without volunteers, the process would have taken so much longer.”
To recruit sufficient help, Rittenhouse contacted local volunteers, Allegheny Mennonite Conference congregations and members of Scottdale Mennonite Church. Response to her invitation was enthusiastic: in all, more than 35 individuals worked on the renovation.
Alan Kauffman brought along an entire contingent of youth from Maple Grove Mennonite Church (Belleville, Pa.). Former Laurelville staffers Rob and Gin Renno made it a family affair by inviting their two grandchildren, Chloe and Caleb, and the children’s maternal grandparents, John and Arlene Yoder. They were joined by numerous Laurelville Association members and friends.
Summer staffers also participated as part of their service project during orientation, and Laurelville maintenance staff devoted significant hours as well.
Prior to receiving the YMCA’s offer, Laurelville had budgeted roughly $15,000 for playground area improvements. Denlinger estimated that the donated equipment, originally purchased in 2000, would cost upwards of $55,000 in today’s market.
“Obviously this couldn't have happened without the extreme generosity of the YMCA and Steve Simon,” remarked Denlinger, who also cited the critical roles played by Hartzler, Brubacher and the many staff and volunteers who participated in the project. “We often say it takes a village to raise a child (or to make things happen). This is an unbelievable example of how communities and organizations can work together in life-giving ways.”
Laurelville is planning an official ceremony to dedicate the renovated playground in July, but it is already open to overnight guests and day-use visitors between dawn and dusk. For more information about visiting Laurelville, go to www.laurelville.org or call 724.423.2056.