Playground at Shelter, Inc. gets facelift

Zonta Club of Alpena Tri-County Area and Shelter, Inc. recently teamed up with a local business to refurbish a playground space used by children of parents seeking refuge from abusive domestic relationships.

Doug Pratt of PrattScape in Alpena helped turn a small protected space at Shelter’s Safe House into a much brighter place in which children can play. Zonta provided funding and volunteer time to the project, while Pratt provided labor and materials needed to transform the play area into a more pleasant outdoor space where parents working through difficult domestic situations can take a few minutes to relax outdoors while their young ones safely romp on playground equipment.

“Shelter has been an ongoing project for our club,” said member Stacy Roznowski, adding that the installation of a new kitchen and the painting of interior rooms at Shelter are among past projects supported by Zonta over the years.

“Our club’s purpose is to improve the status of women,” said fellow member Pam Werth. “This playground area is one of our service projects, and generally speaking, serves women and their young children. It’s a perfect fit.”

Pratt planted shrubs and flowers, installed edging and wooden chips, replaced a canvas awning over a large playground piece and provided a picnic table umbrella for protection from the sun. In all, the project cost $1,500. Additional improvements still to come are purchase of a bistro table and chairs, painting of the wooden picnic table and installation of a decorative safety grill over an exposed window.

Zonta President Peggy Donakowski said when Pratt heard what the club wanted to do for Shelter’s playground area, he quickly came on board with the project.

“We do the city’s pots and parks, the hospital garden. Obviously a company that makes money needs to give back to the community. This was a great project. Kids need to feel safe and be able to play outside,” said Pratt, who beautified the space with lilies, rhododendron, hydrangea and burning bush plants.

Katy Conklin, as Shelter’s new executive director, is pleased with the outcome of the project and thankful for the willingness of all involved.

“I am grateful to the Zonta Club of Alpena Tri-County, who was responsible for sending a landscaper to the Safe House to spruce up the backyard,” Conklin said. “They planted shrubs and flowers, and put down wood chips along with edging all around the fence and children’s play yard. They also inserted an umbrella in the picnic table, and replaced the canvas on the play yard.”

Shirley Diemond, who works for Shelter as volunteer coordinator, gets to see the children using the equipment and the parents relaxing in the outdoor space, which also includes protective fencing with bright colored artwork painted on it by children staying at the Safe House.

“The moms are really happy with how the space has been spruced up,” Diemond said. “Many thanks to the Tri-County Area Zonta members for their continuous support of Shelter, Inc. Because of the Zonta Club, individuals we serve and their children have a beautiful and safe backyard to enjoy. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts. They are truly making a difference in the lives of many survivors.”