Kiwanis volunteers build playground at Ravenna youth center

About 25 volunteers converged on Saturday at the Community Action Council’s youth center in Ravenna, with the aim of setting up a long-awaited playground by the end of the day.

The Ravenna Kiwanis Club sponsored a community playground construction on Saturday, after three years of fundraising for the project. The club solicited volunteers on Facebook, and club member Eric Schlaubach said a crowd of 25 volunteers had signed up to volunteer.

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The ADA-compliant playground was built outside the Community Action Council Youth Center at 519 N. Walnut St., which was once home to the Ravenna Boys and Girls Club.

Bill Flinta and Eric Schlaubach of the Ravenna Kiwanis Club are helping build playground equipment at the CAC Youth and Family Center in Ravenna.

Staff from Penchura, the playground equipment vendor, started the day by giving instructions to the group, who started building around 9 a.m. The volunteers expected to devote at least five hours to the construction.

“By building this community, we save a lot of money,” Schlaubach said.

Schlaubach said Kiwanis had been working to raise $ 85,000 for the project for about three years. In addition to selling brick sponsorships, funding came from the Portage County United Way, the Portage Foundation and a community development grant from the city of Ravenna. In addition to the playground itself, the money raised will compensate for any ongoing maintenance, as well as site issues, such as replacing some fences and moving a pole.

Marc Roath is working on equipment Saturday morning.

Kiwanis, he said, is known for its projects that benefit young people in the community. Ravenna’s playground is not as elaborate as the recently built one at Randolph, but is wheelchair accessible, he said.

“There is nothing for children to do in this area,” Schlaubach said.

David Shea, executive director of the ACC, said that although the youth center has served young people for many years as a Boys and Girls club, it has never had a playground. Plus, the children who are more and more young people visiting the youth center.

“We’ve been talking about it for five years. he said.

Shea said the plan was to install the playground this summer, but shipping issues related to COVID have delayed installation so far.

Peggy Flinta arranges pieces for a playground during a volunteer construction session on Saturday morning at the ACC Youth and Family Center in Ravenna.

“The shipping company said they would be there tomorrow and then the next day and the next day, and we had people there with forklifts,” he said.

Since the after-school programming at the Maison des jeunes has been canceled due to COVID-19, the playground will provide a safe outdoor activity for children.

“I think it will be great for the children in the area and the youth center,” he said.

Journalist Diane Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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