‘A Labor of Love’: Friends of Mead Park Playground Reach Fundraising Goal

L-R (grownups, pictured with their kids. ): Claire Foster, Elizabeth Parija, Amanda Carter, Allyson Mahoney, Monica Chimera. Contributed

New Canaan residents Monica Chimera and Allyson Mahoney, founders of the nonprofit group Friends of Mead Park Playground, have announced that the organization has reached its fundraising goal of over $200,000 for new play equipment at Mead Park.

Chimera and Mahoney are working in conjunction with the New Canaan Community Foundation to construct the state-of-the-art playground.

The project includes a new main structure, as well as secondary stations, combined with a Poured In Place rubberized surface to replace the mulch currently covering the area. The project will be completed by GameTime.

The nearly 20-year-old structure has fallen into disrepair. Chimera previously noted that the slides have already been replaced and the plexiglass window on the main structure has popped out multiple times. The mulch covering the ground has also been pointed to as a reason for the update. The organization wrote on its Facebook page that the mulch is “not only messy, but makes the playground inaccessible to some children” who require wheelchairs for mobility.

The group worked with the town to acquire $190,000 to replace the structures, however, the moms wanted to do more to improve the park, so they have turned to raising and additional $203,000 on their own.

A computer-designed composite rendering of the proposed playground equipment for Mead Park, from GameTime.

The fundraising efforts proved successful, according to Chimera and Mahoney, due to innovative strategies combined with an outpouring of community support.

“Raising the necessary funds in just six months was no easy task,” Chimera told NewCanaanite.com. “Lots of hard work went into the effort. Allyson and I are incredibly grateful to our volunteers for the dedication to the campaign.”

The Legacy Walkway campaign is one valuable way for the community and larger level businesses to support the project. The sale of bricks for the walkway allowed for various levels of support—ranging from an individual 4×8-inch brick at $275 up to a 12×12-inch brick with a business logo for $1,500. There are also $750 and $1,000 levels.

“The bulk of our fundraising dollars were raised via brick sales,” Chimera said.

Local businesses also stepped up to help achieve the group’s vision with sponsorships from Walter Stewart’s, Rosie New Canaan, Karp Associates, more. The group also turned to local nonprofits and social groups for financial support, receiving grants from The New Canaan Newcomer’s Club, New Canaan Community Foundation, STAR Foundation and the Young Women’s League of New Canaan.

A computer-designed composite rendering of the proposed playground equipment for Mead Park, from GameTime.

“We were also fortunate enough to receive tremendous support from local families and the business community in the form of premium sponsorships,” Chimera said of the efforts. “We were honored to receive generous grant awards from local philanthropic organizations as well.”

Chimera is optimistic for a quick turn around on the construction of the playground.

“We are hopeful to have the new play space ready for use by mid-to-late September,” she said. “However, our project hinges on the progress of the baseball fields. Therefore, we may need to be flexible with our timing.”

Chimera and Mahoney emphasized the key role the New Canaan community played in the success of their vision.

“Running this campaign has been a labor of love, not to mention quite a learning experience,” Chimera said. “We have been overwhelmed by the response to the campaign and we would like to express our deepest gratitude to our donors for having faith in our project and deeming it worthy of their contribution.”

The Legacy Walkway campaign will continue through August 12. Although the initial goal has been reached, the group is still accepting donations to cover “some very special add-ons that were not accounted for in our original budget,” Chimera said.

To donate and for campaign details visit the group’s website in conjunction with the New Canaan Community Foundation here.

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