Mark Rastin builds community in Elm West
The president of the Elm West Playground Association said he couldn't have done what he has without the other members of the playground association's committee.
Four years ago, the city-owned Elm West Playground, located off Ethelbert Street at 550 White Ave., was all but abandoned.
Rastin decided he wanted to change that. He organized a meeting and formed a playground committee. With help from Ward 4 Coun. Evelyn Dutrisac's HCI fund and charity bingo proceeds, they started putting on events.
The playground is now a year-round hub of activity.
Its annual Christmas party and haunted house are popular among local families. Elm West's latest event, a winter family fun day held in February, was attended by 300 people despite the cold, windy weather.
The association maintains an onsite outdoor ice rink. Before the group formed, there was no ice rink for several years, as the city requires volunteers to run these facilities.
The venue also plays host to monthly seniors' events put on by the DEWCAN (Donovan/Elm West Community Action Network), as well as baseball, cricket and a day camp in the summer months.
The volunteers' next goal is to raise the $25,000 they need to build a combination basketball, tennis and shuffleboard court.
The Elm West Playground acts as a community-building hub, Rastin said. “I think it brings the neighbourhood together,” he said.
Lynne Ethier, who nominated Rastin as her Neighbourhood Hero,
echoes that sentiment.
“(Rastin) creates an opportunity for us to gather and support each other and get to know who lives where, and a chance for the children to play outside, encouraging new friendships while taking part in healthy exercise,” she said in an email to Northern Life.
“I believe the perseverance and initiative that Mark demonstrates each time he encourages the association to put another event together is priceless. If everyone in this community cared and looked out for one another as he does, we would be part of a very happy and healthy, safe and welcoming community.”
Do you know someone who brightens other people's lives, but never asks for nor receives recognition? Nominate a Neighbourhood Hero by emailing lifestyle reporter Heidi Ulrichsen at [email protected]