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Alpha Phi Omega Work Day
at Cannaday Park

May 2, 1998

Alpha Phi Omega is a national co-ed service fraternity. Students from the University of Illinois as well as other Illinois colleges and universities chose to work with ESLARP for their Section 48 service project this year. The rest of this document is a narrative describing how they helped the residents of the Emerson Park neighborhood make numerous additions to the existing Cannaday Park:

Deanna and I arrived on Friday to help Vickie Forby deliver checks, get ESLARP supplies from the shed and meet the A-1 rental guys to get the bobcat, chain saws and wheelbarrows. Friday evening around six the cement crew showed up, eager to start work and put up the forms for the basketball court. They worked through the intense rainstorm and had all the forms up and ready for the cement truck to show up first thing Sat. morning. They were a bit worried to leave their forms, worth about $75 a piece, but Vickie had thought of that. She paid one of the local gang/EPDC liaisons a few bucks to sit out in the park overnight to watch them.

We arrived early on Sat. AM, to await the arrival of the trucks from Home Depot and the nursery. Vickie, her husband and some of the concrete guys were already there (did they ever leave?). Cars filled with students started arriving early - around 9:15 and ready to work.

The weather report that am had reported thunder showers and hail arriving early afternoon and we were a bit worried. We immediately started a few students painting the existing playground equipment, a nice shade called "Bright Blue" - a big improvement.

Other students started laying mulch over the paths through and around the perimeter of the park. The ground was saturated from all the rain we had over the previous few weeks.

The playground contractor, Meihaus Design, dug the large kidney shaped hole for the playground equipment and made large berms around the edge of the hole. He managed to put down some plastic and then some gravel so that some of the students could get in the hole and help him put up the monkey bars and pull-up bars.

He also had the students move large (and heavy!) landscape ties around the existing swings and whirly-bird. Over the process of the day, they filled the area under the swings with tons of pea gravel (about 10" deep!) to cushion falls from the swings!

Other students, under the guidance of architect-to-be Eric Boseman, were building raised beds for a community garden along 15th. The beds are to be used by the students at the Lessie Bates Community Center to grow produce to sell at the farmers market! They also built smaller planter beds that were filled with colorful flowers, thanks to Deanna and her crew of helpers, and placed around the park next to the benches (some of which had to be moved).

Every since we first arrived, were a bunch of children from the neighborhood running around helping out, climbing up on the enormous pile of pea gravel. They really did a great job of helping at the various tasks to make their park.

Our lunches arrived and we took a quick break to eat, get a cold drink and listen to Eric Boseman's story of ESLARP and Vickie Forby tell about the numerous achievements and accomplishments of the EPDC. The sun was shinning (still!) and everyone was a bit tired but happy with the work they had accomplished so far!

We filled numerous wheelbarrow loads with gravel and mulch. It really helped having Mr. Suttle and his tractor/trailer combo. We could move four times as much as one wheelbarrow load. I think he was having a good time cruising around. Damon and Patricia showed up after their work at the Dunham with the Warton College bunch and worked hard!

The students filtered away, the groups with 3.5 hour drives ahead left first and other groups stayed around to help as much as they could. When we left around 6 to take the tools back to the shed, Vicky and her husband were still there picking up all the tools and surveying our amazing accomplishment! As we drove off we could hear the kids yelling as they played.....

Numerous thanks go out to all the volunteers both from ESL and the APO group!

More images from the Outreach Weekend.

Document author(s) : Megan Weaver
Last modified: 27 May 1998, Deanna Koenigs