New playground going up at Whitehall Place

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Since the new playground proposed for the Whitehall Place housing community will benefit the entire neighborhood, the entire neighborhood is being asked to help build it.

The plan is to replace the outdated structures with modern ones in the playground off Maple Ave in the former Prospect Park in Whitehall.

The new playground will feature colorful climbing walls, slides, toddler swings and more in compliance with today's safety standards. It also will have new picnic benches.

''It is a wonderful new benefit to the community that should get kids excited about playing and staying active,'' James Guffey, executive director of South Hills Interfaith Ministries, said.

South Hills Interfaith Ministries is teaming with the national nonprofit KaBOOM!, an organization that helps communities build playgrounds, and Economic Development South, a nonprofit community development corporation, for the project. 

From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 4, 40 volunteers are needed to report to the park to help assemble the new equipment.  At noon that day, volunteers willing to manage teams of fellow volunteers who will work on Sept. 6 should attend an orientation at the park.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 6, 200 volunteers are needed to help with the build, which will happen rain or shine.

Once volunteers pre-register, they will receive information about off-site parking and taking a shuttle to the park. While volunteers of all ages do not have to be trained, skilled, or have any special tools, they must pre-register for either or both days.

South Hills Interfaith Ministries applied for and received a grant from KaBOOM! to obtain the equipment at cost and the technical expertise to construct a new playground.The funding partners, which underwrote the majority of the cost, are the Heinz Endowments and the Jefferson Regional Foundation. 

The cost to the ministries was $8,500, which it raised from donations.

Once Whitehall granted permission for the project, the borough removed the old structures. 

''It is a win for Whitehall as it gets a modern playground,’’  Mr. Guffey said.

The borough has agreed to assume maintenance and ownership.

South Hills Interfaith Ministries, which has offices at 5301 Park Ave. in Bethel Park, works to help struggling individuals and families in the South Hills to achieve self-sufficiency through short-term services, such as food for the night, and long-term services, like an on-site food pantry, financial literacy and job employment services.

It is supported by over 50 South Hills congregations of various faiths and serves some 2,000 individuals and 800 families in the South Hills. About half of the ministries’ family assistance clients are refugees.

Mr. Guffey said he expects the many refugees who live in or near Whitehall Place to use the playground, which is the ministries’ first playground project.

''It was needed; it was a great opportunity for the partners to collaborate; and it is a perfect example of how nonprofits should work together,'' he said.

Details: 412-854-9120 or  www.shim-center.org.

Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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