'Heroes' come to Evergreen Park's rescue

Donors help make site hospitable for summer kids program

By Stefanie Donahue, Columbian staff writer

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A gaggle of giggling kids dressed as superheroes greeted donors at Evergreen Park on Thursday, but the real heroes of the day weren't wearing capes. Without support from those donors, the locally treasured day camp the kids attend wouldn't exist.

The Evergreen Park Summer Playground Program relies solely on funding from donors to operate.

At no cost, kids ages six to eleven can participate in a variety of staff- and volunteer-led activities five days a week.

Business and private donors, with Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt in tow, visited the park to see the kids and the impact of their contributions.

"I have definitely seen it change lives," said Mitzi Horrocks, site leader with the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation.

The park, located along the Fourth Plain corridor, is known for gang activity, weapons and drugs, she said. Without the program, the park would not be a safe place for the kids to play, she said.

This week, the team of paid program staff and volunteers introduced the kids to, as Horrocks puts it, a few of the local heroes in the community. Kids met a police officer and a nurse and are scheduled to meet a teacher today, she said.

To complement the hero theme, Thursday was superhero day. Staff and the group of about 60 kids lined up along the playground in their superhero garb, introduced themselves and displayed their appreciation to donors.

In March, Leavitt brought attention to the program during his 2013 State of the City address and called for donations to keep the program running. Following the speech, donor contributions quickly added up to provide the $15,000 needed for the program to operate, said Cheri Martin executive director at the Parks Foundation of Clark County.

On Wednesday, the kids awarded Leavitt with a glimmering red Superman cape. Following their remarks, the kids eagerly challenged him to a game of dodgeball.

Dressed in his brand-new superhero attire, the mayor accepted their request and joined in.

"They are fast," he said with a grin. "We may have some future Major League Baseball players."

Leavitt grew up in the area and attended summer camps when he was younger, he said.

"It is one of the reasons why I'm so passionate for the program," he said.

Donations are accepted through the Parks Foundation of Clark County.

Summer fun at area parks

Summer Playground Programs end Aug. 16.

Evergreen Park, 3500 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. The Summer Playground Program is offered 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Preregistration is required. Participants must live within the Roosevelt Elementary School boundaries or near Fourth Plain between Fort Vancouver Way and Caples Avenue.

Orchards Park, 9800 N.E. 54th St. The Summer Playground Program is offered 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Preregistration is required. Participants must live in the Orchards Elementary boundaries.

Oakbrook Park, 3103 N.E. 99th Ave., west of Interstate 205. Drop-in hours are from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Preregistration is not required.

Hearthwood Park, 801 N.E. Hearthwood Blvd. Drop-in hours are from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Preregistration is not required.

John Ball Park, West 23rd Street and Kauffman Avenue. Drop-in hours are from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Jaggy Road Park, 4500 N.E. 72nd Ave. Drop-in hours are from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

Free lunches will be provided to children younger than 19 years of age at all parks locations on scheduled program days.

Information: Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation.