Fraser nonprofit receives grant for barrier-free park swings

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published July 18, 2018


FRASER — Fraser First Booster Club recently — and successfully — swung for the fences.

The nonprofit, whose board and core volunteers have worked relentlessly over the years to make McKinley Barrier-Free Park a reality, was recently awarded $28,000 from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Legacy Funds, via the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

The grant process was conducted by longtime FFBC grant writer Linda Davis-Kirksey.

That money will be added to the $22,000 in private funds already raised, totaling $50,000. It will be utilized to pay for an expected three baby/toddler swings, two handicapped-accessible swings and a currently unknown number of traditional swings, as well as the pouring of the foundation.

The group’s goal, based on weather and contractor availability, is to erect all the swings this fall.

“We were elated and over the moon when we heard we received the grant,” FFBC President Sherry Stein said. “We know this will get us one step closer to our dream of a totally barrier-free park.”

Board member Vania Apps said she personally received a call from the foundation, in an effort to learn more about the park and the nonprofit’s intentions. In mid-June, she received an email stating that the group would be receiving funds — but only after the official announcement was made.

“We kind of had to sit on the information and the excitement,” Apps said. “The membership was really excited and allowed to speak amongst ourselves. … That’s a second grant to Fraser First, which is kind of neat because each time (FFBC) is awarded a grant on our own merit, it helps when we do apply for (other) grants.”

That wasn’t the only good news.

As part of a GlobalGiving online campaign, which connects donors with worldwide grassroots endeavors, FFBC received another $10,000 on top of the $50,000.

Per the rules of the campaign, the group had to meet criteria. First, it had to raise $5,000 from 40 donors in at least 11 days. FFBC reached that goal in just two days. When the challenge was increased to raising $10,000, the goal was met in just five days.

Stein said that since the $5,000 was reached, FFBC is now a partner of GlobalGiving and can host a crowdfunding fundraiser whenever it desires. It also opens doors to receiving volunteers, as well as earning a spot on GlobalGiving’s online homepage for a day, drawing even more traffic.

 She called it a “group effort” that encompassed word-of-mouth, social media and community support. One example was Gary Niedojadlo, president of the board of directors at Hanover Grove Cooperative, 15750 Sabre Lane in Fraser. He and his employees made sure that $5,000 and beyond was achieved with relative ease.

“I have to say, we cried a little knowing that we have all this support,” said Stein, adding that the GlobalGiving cash will also go toward the swings.

Apps, the former FFBC president, said she feels like the city of Fraser was the “trumpeter” of making accessible parks a reality in the surrounding community. It has now spread to other municipalities, offering collective appeal for people of all ages, backgrounds and lifestyles.

“A lot of things that we take for granted — those of us that have children who don’t have challenges or impairments — swinging is an important sensory education to the body. … Being inclusive helps us learn that certain abilities that people may consider a challenge doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have a lot to contribute, not only in play but in social settings,” she said. “That inclusiveness is really showing itself at McKinley Barrier-Free Park.”