New community playground dedicated Thursday | Community Service
News10NBC has a follow-up on a Jefferson Award winner who has brought smiles to the faces of inner city kids.
Todd Allen spearheaded an effort to build a playground at a Westside neighborhood center and that playground was dedicated Thursday afternoon.
The Cameron Community Ministries on Cameron Street is just about a block north of Lyell Avenue. What used to be a boarded up old house is now a fabulous playground.
News10NBC first met Todd Allen back in April. The lot, where the house stood, was bare.
Allen said, “The house, I'm sure in its day was a beautiful house. It had been pretty much abandoned since the 1990's.”
Today, Cameron’s new playground is a safe place for kids in the neighborhood to play. The Cameron community raised $85,000 to buy the playground equipment.
Allen said, “You know, it's just kind of hard to believe. It kind of gives me chills. And the kids are using it now. I couldn't be happier.”
Allen, a sales manager for a software company, agreed to lead the effort to build a much-needed playground. He belongs to Webster Baptist Church and 15 years ago, he became a volunteer here. Cameron is an urban outreach center with programs to meet people's basic needs.
Cornelia Labrum, Cameron Ministries Board Chair, said, “We're trying to give kids a picture of what life can be. They can break the cycle of poverty. They have people on their team that want what they want and we can help them get there. So this is a symbol of hope for these kids.”
Allen said, “If we can do it here, it can be done in a lot of other places in Rochester. And it's amazing that once you get people behind an idea how fast it can come together."
The playground is named Christopher's Place in honor of Allen's 23-year-old son who was lost to cancer about eight months ago.
Allen said, “Yeah, um, it's funny how some things just kind of work out better than you have ever hoped. When I started this project a couple years ago, he was a healthy 21-year-old and the fact that I've been able to finish the playground and have it dedicated in his honor called Christopher's Place is just really great.”
Now with the playground, they are hoping for a neighborhood renaissance. Cameron is a magnet for neighborhood children with after school programs and free meals, especially in summer when there’s no free school lunch. Cameron provided 7,000 meals to kids last summer alone.