The play yard outside the VFW National Home Early Education Center often buzzes with energy as little tykes run and climb on the play equipment during recess. Now a new rubber mulch surface offers an additional level of safety for the youth.
“I feel the rubber mulch is safer for the children as it gives a bouncy cushion to prevent injury from falls,” said Ivy Bush, Early Education Center Supervisor.
The VFW National Home joined forces with Team Rubicon and the VFW Department of Illinois Auxiliary to execute the project which began when Bush requested new mulch for the playground at a director’s meeting this past spring.
The wood chip mulch previously on the playground floor attracted bees in the spring and summer, needed to be replaced often, and required frequent raking to keep it evenly disbursed under the play equipment. Heavier rubber mulch stays in place better and has a longer lifespan.
Southwest Michigan Team Rubicon, a national disaster relief organization made up of mostly veterans who help veterans, offered their services to provide the heavy lifting to lay the new mulch. A team of 12 Rubicon volunteers drove in from cities all around Michigan to prepare the surface and distribute 26 one-ton bags of rubber mulch at a six-inch depth all in one day.
“This particular project was important because it was veterans helping veterans and we have it in us to help and support one another always and forever,” said Team Rubicon Kalamazoo City Metro Administrator Kimberly Cheesebro.
The VFW Department of Illinois Auxiliary provided funding to purchase the materials for the kid-friendly project.
“We like to take care of the VFW National Home kids and their play area, so it’s become kind of our special project,” said Marvie Wisniewski, VFW Department of Illinois Auxiliary President, who added that they also recently purchased fencing and a picnic table for the playground.
Bush expressed her gratitude to the two groups who made this possible, “If you ask anyone, I am a safety, Queen! It truly makes my heart so happy to see the children playing on a safe surface. I will forever be grateful for this unexpected improvement that will keep the children of the National Home safe for many years to come.”
Early Education Center Offers Assurance to VFW National Home Parents
Quality childcare ranks as one of the greatest needs of residents of the VFW National Home who often are pursuing new employment or furthering their education to enable to them to become independent.
Licensed by the state of Michigan, the Early Education Center seeks to provide a safe and healthy learning environment at no charge for the children of VFW National Home residents.
“We offer a play-based center that is designed to enrich the social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development of each child,” explained Bush.
Children are divided by age into one of three classrooms including, infant, toddler, and preschool taught by qualified teachers who Bush says bring their own unique gifts into the classroom, including the love of nature as well as all kinds of expressions of communication such as sign language and exploring through music and art.
“The children arrive and leave with bright smiles every day and it is all because of the love and care these teachers share,” said Bush. Current enrollment includes 17 children who receive free lunches and care from the hours of 7:30am until 5pm.