Van Hawkins (Photo provided)

Van Hawkins (Photo provided)

Pay It Forward: Parks build villages

My young son has recently discovered parks. If there is a slide, we are on it. A swing? Get out of the way, toddler coming through! As we clamber over molded plastic and painted metal, there is little time to think about anything but the fun he is having and all the potential for emergency room visits. However, parks are not just about wringing energy out of the kids so they sleep better. As they play, there is great potential for learning.

My child is always learning new tricks from watching the other kids. He is continually trying to use the equipment in ways that we narrow minded adults would have never conceived. Also, he is getting social time that, for an only child born near the start of the pandemic, is in short supply. I too am learning as I watch the technique of other parents helping their kids navigate such territories as sharing and taking turns.

These slices of childhood heaven don’t spring up out of the wood chips on their own. Dedicated people decide to pour their time, energy and resources into the project to enhance the quality of life in their community. Countless hours are spent finding the location and designing the park. Gathering the support of others to complete the construction is also no mean feat. Maintenance requires a special, sustained commitment, lasting long after the more glamours work has been done. In addition to the labor of many civic-minded volunteers, parks require the financial support of the community at-large.

Kachemak City has begun the process of rebuilding the playground adjacent to their community center. They hope to replace the existing, worn-out equipment and upgrade the facility to better suit the needs of area residents. As more people move into the Kachemak Bay area, this is the kind of work that needs to be done to foster the community spirit that makes this a great place to live.

Kachemak City is currently soliciting donations from the public through their fund at the Homer Foundation, and I would encourage everyone to consider being a part of the project by making a contribution. This park, and others like it, provide a place for people to get outside and off of their phones. Parents can meet other parents, build their “village,” and find common ground watching the joy on their children’s faces while their kids can bond over the shared love of speed and outside voices.

Van Hawkins is a Homer resident and member of the board of trustees for the Homer Foundation.

Nonprofit Needs

Homer Dog Trainers is looking for someone to mop and clean once a week. We pay $25/hour and it takes about two hours. Contact

Bunnell Street Arts Center is looking for metal shelving to stack boxes and packing materials. Contact

The Homer Food Pantry is seeking 6-inch flour tortillas, cans of beef stew and any soup which is not tomato.

REC Room is looking for lawn sports equipment, specifically a volleyball net, kitchen supplies. (i.e. bowls, cups, organizers), chairs (greatly needed), headphones, natteries, money for snacks and food, a couch (good condition), organizer totes and a clear organizer shelf for art supplies, and paint. Contact Sierra at

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