The Smith Family YMCA marked the beginning of a new era on Monday by cutting the ribbon for a new playground complex. It was a project that would not have been possible without contributions from multiple community organizations and businesses, chief among them Laraway School District 70C, the Will County Board, the Joliet Park District and CPC Powder Coating.
Greater Joliet Area YMCA CEO Jim Watts opened the celebration by detailing some of the Y’s history in the community and acknowledging the tremendous support the Y continues to receive from its community partners.
Smith Family YMCA Executive Director Donnie Chestnutt followed by thanking Y staff members for their hard work and dedication to making resources like the new playground a vital part of enriching the lives of children. She also noted that the playground is just one part of a multifaceted improvement to the Smith facility, coinciding with renovations to the Kids Corner and Activity Center earlier this year. She emphasized the role of donors in the Y’s ability to develop and maintain these projects.
Will County Board Member Pastor Herb Brooks was asked to give a blessing to the playground as well as other Y facilities before Chestnutt introduced Before and After School Care Director Darren Callahan.
Callahan expressed his gratitude and explained that having the playground will help the Y continue to provide a safe place for children, give them opportunities to maintain physical activity, and develop their social skills among peers.
Carl Smith of the Greater Joliet Area YMCA Board of Directors and Smith Family YMCA Advisory Council then spoke about how projects like the playground installation are what inspires board members in their passion to improve the community. He presented a replica poster of the banner that will hang in the Smith gym for each of the core donors:
-Laraway School District 70C, represented by Superintendent Joe Salmieri and members of the school board, was recognized for donating the playground equipment after the construction of a new school.
-The Will County Board, with special thanks to Speaker Denise Winfrey and Pastor Herb Brooks, played a key role in the project by donating $15,000 in partnership with Waste Management to help cover various costs of the project.
-The Joliet Park District, represented by Executive Director Brad Staab, was thanked for their expertise and help facilitating the movement of the playground equipment.
-And CPC Powder Coating aided the completion of the project by giving new life to the playground with a fresh, durable paint job.
After recognizing our generous donors, Chestnutt invited Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasnow to speak. Glasnow noted that organizations like the Y help him in his role to keep communities safe, noting that investment into the well-being of children is one of the most important tasks of crime prevention.
Chestnutt closed with a final thank you to all in attendance and invited donors, staff and kids in the Smith Family YMCA’s Kid Zone program to help cut the ribbon, officially opening the new playground.