Suffolk House gets $10,000 for playground

Published 10:35 pm Thursday, June 25, 2009

The ForKids Suffolk House has received $10,000 from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Norfolk, Inc. to begin building a playground for the shelter’s children.

“We’ve really been building a strong relationship with McDonald’s, because they recognize the need that we have here,” said Priscilla Monti, community relations coordinator for ForKids.

ForKids applied during the McDonald’s grant process for help with the Suffolk House, because fun, recreational activities are important to a child’s development, Monti said.


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“It’s vital because these kids need to be kids,” she said. “They are involved in our tutoring programs, and we have case managers for them and all of that. But bottom line: Kids do best when they are able to play and have fun and just be kids. They need to be outside, and they need to scream and yell and have fun outside. That’s just going to encourage their development.”

Monti said the shelter can hold up to 10 families at the shelter at one time, which means there can be dozens of children there at any given time with no playground available to them.

“We often have 20 kids or so at the shelter, because each family usually has at least two kids,” Monti said. “These past two months, we’ve had a couple of families with five or six kids each. It fills up very fast.”

In the grant application, the current yard at Suffolk House was described as being in poor condition, with broken swings and splintering wood furniture. ForKids staff members want to double the shelter’s play area by removing a dilapidated fence and creating a “play zone,” complete with a rubberized surface and play set. It was estimated the new playground would cost about $46,000, and Monti said this donation would serve as the seed money for the project.

Monti added that this donation from the McDonald’s House of Charities was welcome news in a tough economic year for the non-profit organization.

ForKids needed to raise $100,000 by June 30 in order to balance its budget. As of June 24, it has raised $90,000.

“We have one more week to go,” Monti said. “We’re still just reaching out to the community, and if anybody else wants to contribute, we would love that.”

ForKids was founded in 1988, and currently serves approximately 42 families with more than 80 children each night in their residential programs, as well as more than 100 families with more than 200 children in their nonresidential programs.