Community Foundation Playground Project gets boost from local businesses

Press release

The Lake Monticello Community Foundation is a third of the way to its $100,000 goal to create an all-inclusive playground at Lake Monticello’s Lafayette Park.

Gary Albert of Gary Albert State Farm and Amy and Darian Cochran of Avenue Realty each donated $2,500 from their respective businesses earlier this week. Albert said Thursday that the State Farm Corporate office will match his donation of $2,500—pushing the amount raised for the playground to $32,500.

“I was inspired to get involved with this project because of a client who became a good friend,” said Amy Cochran. “She has a one-year-old who is wheelchair bound. I remember as a mom of two young children that going to the playground was where I could go on a ‘Bad Mom Day’—the kind of day where moms look for support from other moms on the playground. Who is my friend going to talk to if there isn’t a playground for her child on her ‘Bad Mom Days?’ This is important and it feels personal.”

Gary Albert, who has offices in Charlottesville and Palmyra, said about six years ago his then-seven-year-old son suffered a bad spiral fracture. “There was nowhere to take him during his recovery,” Albert said. “It was even difficult to push his wheelchair over the mulch at the school. This playground will benefit all children.”

Albert joked that as a father of four children, each 15 months apart, “there was always someone crying and it wasn’t always the kids.”

“This will be a wonderful playground for all the kids,” said Foundation President Nancy Parsons. An inclusive playground simply means “all children can play” in it, she said, adding that it will hopefully be used by children with “a wide spectrum of abilities,” including being fun for the fully-abled, and will “encourage acceptance and belonging” among children of all abilities. “This is truly a game-changer for Lake Monticello,” she said.

Another Charlottesville business, Mill Creek Orthodontics, kicked off the fund drive last month by donating $11,000 for a piece of playground equipment.

In addition to the donations from the three Charlottesville businesses, the rest of the money contributed to date came from a successful yard sale, a charity tea party and individual contributions.

The Foundation is applying for private grants and will seek individual donations from local companies and residents, Parsons said. It also plans an extensive list of fundraisers, including the Christmas Memory Tree and the Christmas Festival of Trees Dec. 3 and 4 at the Ashlawn Clubhouse.

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