Camp gets a new playground thanks to parish’s generosity

Posted:

CHEPACHET — The campers at the Mother of Hope Camp will enjoy a fun-filled new playground this summer, thanks to the generosity of Father William Ledoux, the parishioners of St. Mary Church, Pawtucket, and volunteers from several local construction companies that provided their services and equipment at no cost.

To view more photos, please click here.

The new playground, named in honor of St. Mary, was dedicated last Sunday afternoon by Bishop Robert C. Evans, during a blessing and ribbon cutting ceremony attended by diocesan officials, camp staff and several campers. Father Ledoux offered the invocation, while Father Ernest Berthelette, chaplain for Youth Ministry, said the closing prayer.

“My hope is that the young people will benefit from this camp experience and that they will return home and eventually to school in September renewed and refreshed in mind and body,” said Bishop Evans..

Chris Wesche, an assistant project captain and the team leader for the J. H. Lynch and Sons Co., said the many volunteers were happy to contribute their efforts to the project.

“It never felt at any point that we were working,” he said. “Seeing the kids play is worth it." .

“It wasn’t a task,” added Sean Burgo, representing the Gilbane Company with Barry Manfredi, team captain. “It was a lot of fun. We made a lot of good friends.”

Last winter, Louise Dussault, diocesan director for Comprehensive Youth Ministry, contacted Father Ledoux, pastor of St. Mary Church, about finding a way to bring new life to the playground equipment that belonged to the former St. Mary School, which closed last year. He agreed to donate the recreational items, including slides and hanging bars, to the Mother of Hope Camp, providing that the camp pay for the removal and transport, and leave the playground in good condition.

“It was always our hope to find a place for the playground equipment,” he said, adding that he shared the parishioners’ dream that the equipment would benefit children.

“That dream has become a reality,” Father Ledoux observed.

“This is just a wonderful day,” Dussault added. “We have talked about having a playground for many years.”

Diane Holden, assistant director of Special Gifts Office of Stewardship and Development, was instrumental in making the playground become a reality. She contacted officials of the Gilbane and J. H. Lynch and Sons companies, both of which upon learning that there was no money for the project, generously agreed to supply the labor, equipment, trucks, tools, insurance and everything else associated with the project free of charge.

“Then the historic floods came and washed out the road to the camp,” said Holden. “We had no money to fix it and well, without a road to the camp, well . ... It wasn’t good. Now we had the playground equipment, a plan to create a new playground and no road to the camp.”

She contacted the Narragansett Improvement Company, which agreed to donate the materials and labor to repair the road, allowing the project to be completed.

The Gilbane and Lynch volunteers met on May 15 at St. Mary School, where they worked for 12 hours removing the playground equipment and transporting it to Chepachet.

“Everything seemed to be going so well until we lost the tool to disassemble the equipment,” Holden recalled. “The unfortunate thing was the tool was the same color of the dirt and the steam shovel had already turned the dirt over.”

While Holden didn’t think that the invaluable tool would be found, Father Ledoux prayed to St. Anthony and the volunteers found a metal detector which they used to find the missing instrument.

The Lynch company also provided pea stone needed to cover the playground and Baccala Concrete and Paving supplied four yards of concrete that was needed to finish the playground. Holden contacted the paving company, following the advice of her hairdresser, Suzanne Pellegrino, a member of St. Thomas Parish, Providence, who is a friend of the company owner.

The equipment was installed on May 22.

“It was another 12 hour day,” said Holden. “It was physically challenging, tedious work, all done with smiles, laughter and humor.”

Chris Wesche, an assistant project captain and the team leader for the J. H. Lynch and Sons Co, said the many volunteers were happy to contribute their efforts to the project.

“It never felt at any point that we were working,” he said. “Seeing the kids play is worth it."

“It wasn’t a task,” added Sean Burgo, representing the Gilbane Company with Barry Manfredi, team captain. “It was a lot of fun. We made a lot of good friends.”

camp