New Playground Memorializes Longtime Facilities Director
Little ones dangling from the monkey bars, swooshing down the slide, or balancing on the swing probably won’t give much thought to how their new play place arrived at the VFW National Home or to whom it memorializes. For years to come, they’ll just gather with their young friends and play freely as children are meant to do. And that’s exactly the point.
The Department of Illinois VFW and Auxiliaries joined together to provide a first-class playground for National Home children to let loose, forget their cares, and enjoy the fresh air.
When it came time to decide on a name for the park the choice was clear after the sudden passing of Facilities Director Todd Marriott this summer, who had served the home since 1986.
“We worked with Todd on a lot of our projects for the VFW National Home. This wasn’t a job for him, but a calling. He loved the home and what it stood for, so we named the park the Todd Marriott Memorial Playground,” said Lynn Smith, Dept. President for the State of Illinois Auxiliary.
The Illinois Auxiliary partnered with the Illinois VFW to fund the project, an effort that State Commander Brett Nila said came easily.
“The auxiliary proposed it to us this past February and it picked up steam pretty quickly. We were pleasantly surprised at how the donations just poured in from posts all over the state,” he explained.
Construction included a safe rubber mulch surface with an oversized play structure made of durable plastic that won’t rust or splinter. Benches and a picnic table will be added later.
“Together, we raised in excess of $30,000,” said Smith explaining that the leftover monies will go into a fund to service any playgrounds on campus that need upgrades or repair.
“The National Home is something we are extremely proud of because it does so much for veterans and their families. When we ask for funding from our auxiliaries and posts, they jump right on board because they understand how important the work of the VFW National Home is,” added Nila.
Alongside the VFW National Home Executive Director and Staff, the Department of Illinois VFW and Auxiliary, and the family of Todd Marriott dedicated the new play area at Illinois Day on September 23, 2023.