Volunteers to build new playground at Mel Trotter

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During its 20-year partnership with KABOOM!, Amway has built 22 playgrounds in three states, including 18 in Michigan. Courtesy Gary Wade, Amway

Volunteers from a trio of local organizations will gather to build a state-of-the-art playground in just six hours at Mel Trotter next week.

Amway, Mel Trotter Ministries, the Junior League of Grand Rapids and the community will join the nonprofit playground creator KABOOM! to revitalize, activate and transform an outdated playscape into a playground in about six hours on Aug. 13 at Mel Trotter Ministries, 225 Commerce Ave. SW in downtown Grand Rapids.

The new playground “will help make play the easy choice for kids and families that are guests of the downtown ministry,” the organizations said. With this playground project, which was delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amway, Mel Trotter and KABOOM! are seeking to address what they say is one of the most urgent needs of children in this community — a safe play to play — as far too many kids and communities lack access to parks and play spaces due to historic disinvestment.

“Play is essential to physical, creative, cognitive and social development for our children and families. This gift from Amway allows us to have a safe space for our guests to engage in playful activity that keeps them connected to one another and our community,” said Dennis Van Kampen, CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries. “More importantly, it allows children and families to feel valued and unconditionally loved — which is imperative on their journeys out of homelessness.”

During its 20-year partnership with KABOOM!, Amway has built 22 playgrounds in three states, including 18 in Michigan. After this project is completed, Amway employees will have volunteered a total of 17,710 hours with KABOOM!.

In May and June, staff from Mel Trotter and Family Promise of Grand Rapids met with the families they serve to discuss their dream playground. The playground will be based on their suggestions and will provide more than 500 kids annually with a great, safe place to play.

“This past year has been tough on all of us, especially our kids, so we could not be more excited to partner with our longtime friends at Mel Trotter,” said David Madiol, global lead for Amway corporate social responsibility. “Our goal is to create an oasis where kids feel valued and loved, and where their potential is supported, nurtured and celebrated.”

Through its partnership with Amway, KABOOM! is committed to ending play space inequity for kids and communities, for good.

Event schedule (times are approximate)

8:30-8:45 a.m. — Kickoff ceremony

10 a.m.-1 p.m. — Best viewing of playground construction

1-2:30 p.m. — Final construction phase

2:30-3 p.m. — Ribbon-cutting ceremony

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