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New playground open to everyone

The new playground at the Faith Community Church on Paperjack Drive in New Richmond is available for use by everyone, not just members of the church, according to Pastor Mike Evans. (Photo by Jordan Willi)

The timing of the completion of Paperjack Drive couldn’t have been better for the members of Faith Community Church taking part in the parish’s annual Faith Works projects. A group of a dozen or so church members worked over a period of four days to build a Dr. Seuss-themed, playground for the entire community’s use.

“A playground is a significant resources in any community,” said pastor Mike Evans. “One of the things we try to do is make sure the walkways that a child with a walker could make it all the way through the playground. The team that worked on it kept in mind [the width and the size] that things would need to be in order to make sure as many children as possible could use the playground. They did a good job of making sure that the layout was just right so small children would enjoy it, but at the same time bigger children could also find something to interest them as well.”

The playground was part of the church’s Faith Works project this year. Faith Works, according to Evans, is the church’s annual mission trip to their hometown of New Richmond, where the church works on different projects around the community.

“When we built this building 10 years ago, a family of the church had a large playground that they donated to us and we installed that,” Evans said. “We had kids play on that equipment for years, but it wore out and was becoming a safety concern. We’ve always wanted our playground to be considered community use, so it looked like a great opportunity to have a team working on that project as a gift to New Richmond.”

All the houses on the playground are on stilts of varying heights, with bridges connecting the five whimsical, Dr. Seuss themed houses.

“The creators of the playground came up with this Dr. Seuss concept for the theme,” Evans said. “The group laid down the foundation for each of the houses and told each of the groups to create their own thing. It is remarkable to me how the whole project turned out and how quickly they were able to get it together.”

Evans said that a few of the church members who worked on the project had a high skill level, but a majority of them either had little or no knowledge of construction. However, those people were more than willing to learn and work as hard as possible to make something special for the children of the community.

“For me, it is just amazing to see the creativity of the people who put the playground together,” Evans said. “Obviously these kind of projects take leadership and planning, but man, when those guys get to work, it is amazing. You’ll notice that it would have been easier to build the buildings with square and even corners, but they kept to the theme and did the harder thing to make it look and work better for the kids.”

For the members of the crew that built the playground, Evans feels like they gained more than just the satisfaction of completing a big project from which many people will benefit.

“Faith Works is more than just the projects though,” Evans said. “Our people who work on the projects connect on a deeper level than just what happens on a Sunday morning. Things like the playground, and Faith Works in general, is a great way for men to get involved since that is not always the case with other projects.”

This year’s Faith Works took place from Aug. 4-7, but the concept for the playground started much earlier. The houses were built throughout the four days of Faith Works. According to Evans, people from the church family nominate those in the community who might need help to be added to the Faith Works project list.

“We’ve done major outdoor projects and taken on other things that people can’t do any more,” Evans said. “To us, Faith Works isn’t just that week, it is year-round. We also partner with Grace Place to do some projects at their locations and we also had some significant projects with Five Loaves this year.”

Evans stressed that the new playground isn’t just for church members, but is a resource for the entire community.

“We want people to know that they are more than OK to pull in and use the playground, as well as the parking lot for things like learning how to ride a bike,” Evans said.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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