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Playground Boss Raises Funds for New Area

Students ran onto the elementary school’s playground to find a volleyball net standing on a brand-new cement play area. Someone grabbed a ball and students began setting, bumping and spiking. Others picked up hula hoops to roll along the smooth surface.

Playground and bus supervisor Kevin Emmons watched the action, glad to see the former mud hole filled in with the new concrete slab. He spent nearly a year working concession events at Van Andel Arena with his sons, Travis and Kelvin, to raise $5,400 to pay for it.

Fifth-graders Eduardo Mazariegos and Ambrosio Lemus play with hula hoops on the new concrete surface
Fifth-graders Eduardo Mazariegos and Ambrosio Lemus play with hula hoops on the new concrete surface

Emmons said the area wasn’t suitable for children. “When it filled up with water kids couldn’t play on the playground. When it got icy they would fall down and get hurt.”

So he volunteered at Van Andel, peddling goodies during many events last May through February through a program that donates a percent of revenues to non-profit organizations.

He just wanted to provide a better and safer place to play.

“It’s all about them. These kids are my kids,” Emmons said. “I like to see the kids’ faces light up.”

And light up they did as they talked about playing futsal, tennis, four-square and sidewalk chalking on the new surface. They were impressed to learn Emmons had raised money to pay for it. “He does everything possible to make us happy,” said fifth-grader Dalia Campos.

Fellow playground aide Rod Palmer said the surface was much needed. “It was a tremendous undertaking and he put a lot of time and effort into it.”

They Can Count on Him

Emmons  gets paid for three hours a day to supervise the playground and bus, but he’s at the school 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days a week. He helps teachers with anything they need from coffee to copies, sharpening pencils and laminating class materials. He keeps students in line and watches them during field trips and on the bus. He’s helped provide students in need with shoes, snow pants and other items, said secretary Nancy Poelman.

“Anything the teachers need, he’s willing to assist them,” added attendance secretary Silvia Perez.

Emmons began volunteering eight years ago. He was injured in a car accident and went on long-term disability in 2001 after he worked for many years as a lift-truck driver for a lumber company.

He and his wife, Brenda, a Lee High School graduate, have three children who also graduated from the district.

Emmons and Palmer also host snack sales every other Friday. They have paid for a storage shed to hold playground equipment and to holda lock-in for fifth-graders to celebrate the end of their elementary years.

Emmons’ next goal is to raise $1,300 to add plexiglass to a shelving unit for showcasing student art, where projects currently are easily damaged.


SNN story about another Godfrey-Lee volunteer extraordinaire

The surface is a great place for volleyball, futsal and hopscotch
The surface is a great place for volleyball, futsal and hopscotch

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


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