The unrestrained play was made possible by the three shade structures that protect the play equipment, allowing the children to climb and play without burning themselves.
The shade structures were installed in 2007, but the hard work of raising funds for them was finally recognized last week, as the MOMS Club of Brentwood held a dedication ceremony to honor those who made their Crusade For Shade a reality.
Project Chairperson Toni Hay said the MOMS Club got the “crazy idea” to raise funds for shade structures as part of a community service project in 2004 after the moms realized they were all unsatisfied with the amount of shade available at Brentwood parks.
“The trees were too small to provide shade, and the equipment got too hot for the kids to play on,” Hay said. “If you wanted to go to the park in the summer, you had to go at 9 a.m., and when the kids woke up from their nap later in the afternoon, they wanted to go back to the park, but that just wasn’t an option because they’d burn themselves.
“Now, the weather doesn’t matter. It can be raining or a hundred degrees and the kids can still go out and play.”
The MOMS Club rallied together, and through fundraisers, grants, and help from the city, they were able to raise $76,000.
After the structure was installed, the club used the remaining funds to purchase a plaque, which was finally placed in the park last month. With the plaque officially in place, the club members gathered for an official ribbon cutting, and their crazy idea was finally more than a distant goal.
“What can you really say about a fine group of mothers who really believed in a dream?” Brentwood Park Commissioner Ernie Rodriguez said at the dedication ceremony. “They talked the talked and walked the walk and they got this done, and it’s made the park even better. Their effort has touched the community and we are all grateful for their hard work and dedication to this project.”
Former MOMS Club member Jennifer Uresti, who helped plan the fundraising efforts for the project, returned to the park for the dedication ceremony. “We busted tail to get these shade structures, but it was more than worth it. This is a totally different park now, and the structures make it one of the most kid-friendly parks in the city. I wish there could be shade like this at all the parks.”
Hay said while she’d like to keep the Crusade for Shade going, it is too difficult to raise all the funds to make it possible: “With this economy, people aren’t able to donate like they used to, but getting this one park taken care of made a statement. Now the city of Brentwood requires that all parks have a certain percentage of shade at local parks, so while every park might not have shade like this, at least it is a lot better than it used to be.”
Orchard Park is located at the corner of Griffith Lane and Cashew Street. For more information about the MOMS Club, visit www.brentwoodeastmomsclub.org.