Playground effort gains momentum at church
Fundraising Joyful Servant project to benefit from local eight-handed piano group Too Grand! event in September
Lately, Emily Scharfenberger has been thinking about how small ideas can snowball into great things.
Thats in no small part due to her project to replace the playground at Joyful Servant Lutheran Church. What began as a simple thought upon viewing the dilapidated structure she used growing up, has since gained momentum to the tune of more than $23,000 in grants and community support.
People just really got behind this, she said. I think when people hear there are children involved they dont even hesitate.
The initial idea was a shared one, which came to Scharfenberger and her mother as they looked out the back window while washing dishes in the church kitchen.
The boards were literally falling apart, she said. It was more of a liability to have out there than to not have anything. We just thought it was a good time to start anew.
The initial plan called for a single commercial playground set, but having been born in April 1983, just a month before Joyful Servant was founded, Scharfenberger saw the timing of the project dovetailing with both her 30th birthday and the churchs 30th anniversary.
That development represented the first increase in momentum, but hardly the last. It came around the same time that the church leadership, which had been trying to find a use for an old, unused house since building a new one, decided to invite a relief nursery to set up shop there.
Because A Family Place would be using a preschool setting for about 12 to 15 kids from Yamhill Countys most vulnerable families – thereby reducing child abuse, neglect and foster care placements by giving their parents time to find work, seek counseling or otherwise improve as parents – the need for a new playground took a sudden turn. In addition to several small fundraising efforts, like bake sales and a childrens backpack collection, Scharfenberger spearheaded an auction to benefit the project in March.
Once again, what began as a humble idea to donate things like homemade movie gift baskets and raise more excitement about the project than money – mushroomed beyond Scharfenbergers wildest dreams.
We brought in $10,000 at that event and the church was packed, she said. I cant ever remember it ever being that full as it was at the auction.
During that auction, Joyful Servent congregants Lee and Linda Schrepel purchased a performance by local eight-handed piano and chamber ensemble group Too Grand! Sept. 14 at group founder and pianist Sonja Haugens home in Portland.
Similarly, Scharfenberger was taken aback as donations continued to come in steadily following the auction and after the project budget had been reached.
The church made a push to complete the project in time for its 30th anniversary celebration in June, but was unable to secure an excavator until September, at which point Scharfenberger expects it will take one or two volunteer work days to complete the installation.