Long-time Chesapeake employee and Business Development Officer Kristie Smith was new to Richmond last year. Strolling Westhampton one warm September afternoon, she stumbled on a playground in the neighborhood, one in need of some serious TLC: The Westwood Playground.
Overgrown grass and weeds covered what was once the site of neighborhood children playing on brightly-colored slides and swing sets in a park built nearly 50 years ago.
“The park is a part of our neighborhood. It’s a part of our community,” Kristie said. “I knew right away this was a project for us. We were going to do this.”
Over the next few months, Kristie worked with the City of Richmond, Parks & Recreation and Enrichmond. She teamed up with Reverend Jeanette Brown of the nearby Westwood Baptist Church to rally community members and Chesapeake employees. Together, they established the Friends of Westwood Park: a 5013c nonprofit to raise funds to restore and maintain the Westwood Park.
Fast forward to last Saturday when Chesapeake employees and community members teamed up to clean up the park and playground.
Volunteers picked up litter, landscaped, mulched, cut away limbs and brush and planted colorful flowers. The City installed a new grill, benches, and tables. And, for the first time in 10 years, the park pavilion has working restrooms and running water.
More than 40 people volunteered during the cleanup. Neighbors — from young kids to the oldest member of the Westwood community, 97-year-old Miss Alma — came out to show their support.
“We’ve made some great progress on the playground cleanup and hope to host another community day in the fall,” Kristie said. “I’m so proud to be a part of this exciting project and to be a part of the Westhampton and Westwood neighborhood.”
It really is all about community.
Stay tuned to our blog and social channels to learn more about our upcoming community campaign — #ICareAbout — where Chesapeake employees will share more stories about the community causes they’re most passionate about.