July 2016 – The Sunflower House Playground
Over the weekend, a dream project that was two years in the making finally came true.
On a sweltering Saturday morning, more than a dozen volunteers helped install a playground at Sunflower House, to benefit children who have been victims of abuse.
The project was a fundraising partnership between the Kiwanis Club of Shawnee and the Rotary Club of Shawnee.
Deputy Police Chief Doug Orbin came up with the idea for the playground two and a half years ago, because he often visited the Sunflower House for work-related cases.
To help raise even more money, he asked the Rotary Club to join forces.
Delighted to help, the Rotary Club donated around $8,000 from its “Taste of Shawnee” fundraiser.
The cost of the playground was around $21,000.
“Children come here for a very serious reason and they’re already facing a lot of trauma,” said Orbin at the Sunflower House on Saturday morning. “A playground allows them to forget about the world for a bit and have fun. It gives them a bit of normalcy in their life.”
In addition to both civic organizations’ hard work and fundraising, Merit General Contractors donated equipment and its workers spent 12 hours on Friday digging out space for the playground and setting its foundation.
Westar Energy workers also installed benches, created a walking path, and covered the play area in mulch.
Sunflower House President and CEO Michelle Herman said she is grateful for the hard work, donations, and thoughtfulness put into the project.
“The forensic interviews these kids go through is an intense process and sometimes, they can take several hours,” she said. “A playground is a great way to keep the kids occupied when the weather is nice. To be a recipient of such kindness and dedication from the community is heartwarming.”
Each year, the Sunflower House serves around 500 kids from Johnson and Wyandotte Counties who are victims of child abuse.
In addition to the interviews, the service center also provides therapy.
Plus, each year the center trains around 4,000 adults on how to recognize and report child abuse and it trains 25,000 kids on how to recognize, resist, and report abuse.
A new therapy center is opening in the center’s basement next month.
Sunflower House also recently won a social media contest in which Ikea will refurbish its great room.
Shawnee Police Chief Rob Moser, who is a member of the Rotary Club, said he is pleased with all the positive changes occurring for the Sunflower House and he’s proud to be a part of it.
“The joy this will bring kids for years to come does our hearts good,” Moser said. “Helping others in need is exactly what we do in Shawnee. It’s what our city is about and that’s why I love this community so much.”
The Sunflower House is located at 15440 W. 65th Street in Shawnee.
For more information about the center, visit www.sunflowerhouse.org.
By Jennifer Bhargava – Shawnee Disptach