The Playground Update Project

Tara Burke founded FreelyClothing,com as an on-line retailer of inspirational T-shirts. 10% of all sales are dedicated to a giving-back project. All customers are encouraged to enter their contest by answering the question, “What would you do if you could give freely?” A winner is selected a few times a year and is given up to $1000 towards their project. Their goal is to have a winner every month.

The first contest winner is 12-year-old Sophia Shark, whose winning entry was, “If I could give freely I would give an appropriate playground to my community so kids like my brothers and their little friends could have fun and be safe.” They will be buying a bright red commercial playset and rubber mulch for Brotherhood Park in Watervliet. [References: and]Playset

The playset is $7500 and the rubber mulch (to replace the old wood chips) is $900, for a total cost of $8400. The installation supervision and tools will be donated by Pettinelli & Associates (the playset vendor), and they’ll be looking for 10 community volunteers to do the actual assembly and installation in the spring of 2017, as soon as the weather allows. Since this worthwhile project meets the Lions' goals of serving children and serving their community, a good portion of the required funds will come from the Albany & Troy Lions Club with a matching grant from the New York State & Bermuda Lions Foundation. Your donations are needed for the balance, which is about $3300 as of 9/20/2016.

PDG Dave Harris has lived in Watervliet all his life. When asked if he was familiar with this park, he said, “I am very familiar with Brotherhood Park. It was used for outside PE classes when I attended School 9 Elementary School, so it is very old. The most recent but also old feature is a baseball diamond and there is an old broken court for basketball (pickup-games and practice for older youth), both of which are still used. There is, however, nothing for younger children, which this project is aimed to address.”

If the project is not completed, children of Watervliet will not have a safe and age-appropriate outlet for outdoor play. Currently there are only 8 out-of-shape swings and a small slide at Brotherhood Park. The number of children who come to use the park far outnumber available equipment. The playground, which was intended for 5-12 year-olds, has since become a teenage hangout. Local residents have had concerns about broken glass on the ground and graffiti on the equipment. In addition to this, the wood chip surfacing and underlying matting has become a falling hazard. Since the playground isn't that enticing to local parents, they have to travel to surrounding towns for their kids to play. Sophia, the Watervliet resident who initiated this project, doesn't want to see families leaving her area to find fun and safe places to play. Instead, she wishes they'd come together as a whole and build a playground her entire community can take pride in.  

You can help by making a donation. Checks should be payable to the Albany & Troy Lions Charitable Fund, with "Playground project" on the memo line. Mail it to Albany & Troy Lions, PO Box 192, Troy, NY 12181-0192. We are a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, so all donations are tax-deductible and should be eligible for any matching-gift program.

Nov 30, 2017: Remember the project we started last year to update the playground at Brotherhood Park in Watervliet? The one initiated by Tara Burke of Things have been going slower than we originally hoped, but we and Tara finally raised the required $9000, with help from a grant from the NYS & Bermuda Lions Foundation, a grant from Stewart’s, and a number of generous donors, especially PDG Dave Harris. The playset and the rubber mulch are now in storage with the Watervliet Parks Department, who has checked the playset and confirmed that all the pieces are there. Once we have final approval on the wording for the plaque, the Parks Dept will order the bronze plaque (and pay for it!). It will probably be mounted on canal stones, remnants of the old Erie Canal.

The only thing holding up installation is the weather. The requisite ground prep needs more warmth than we’re currently experiencing, so we’re anticipating installation on the weekend of 3/31-4/1/18. It could be sooner if winter leaves earlier; we’ll have to see what the groundhog says.

April 22 2018 update: The weather was still chilly, but the installation was completed on April 14, 2018. The following week, Saturday, April 21, turned out to be a bright and sunny day for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. From left to right: Jerry Gordon, secretary of the Albany & Troy Lions Club; Tara Burke, owner of; Sophia Shark, the project's inspiration; Frank McGrouty, Watervliet councilman; Tonya Trawick, Sophia's mother; and Mike Manning, mayor of Watervliet. Well-deserved kudos went to Bob Loya and his crew at the Parks & Recreation Dept.

 ribbon cutting