Volunteers put the finishing touches on Benton Harbor Park renovation
BENTON HARBOUR, Mi. — More than 100 volunteers from the Whirlpool Corporation and the Benton Harbor community came out as part of Whirlpool’s “Day of Impact,” a program to commemorate the holiday of the 19 June and the end of slavery in the United States through community service, to put the finishing touches on the newly revitalized Union Park – from its playgrounds with new equipment to its renovated baseball fields and everything new basketball courts.
“We’ve been working with the city for a long time, helping to make improvements to the park and the community,” said Eleanor Reece, vice president of communications for Whirlpool.
This was all part of Whirlpool’s racial equality commitment, to help build Benton Harbor and its people after a very large and peaceful racial justice protest with people on both sides of the river, following the death of George Floyd in 2020.
“Whirlpool wanted to look and step in to see how we can invest more in the city of Benton Harbor, not just in a commercial investment or a housing investment, but how can we invest in the infrastructure of the neighborhood,” said Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus. Mohammad. “Union Park topped the list.”
Whirlpool contributed $500,000 to the project as part of the city’s master plan to update and modernize its parks.
Jim Peters, Whirlpool’s Chief Financial Officer, said: “The fields have improved significantly. The fences are now up and you have the tops on them. The basketball court has been redone. The playground has been remodeled. Many improvements, it’s just hard to count.
Volunteers of all ages came to sand and paint new bleachers, weed and rake the park, and test out some of the new equipment.
“I mean, it’s not really much, but we’re just here to restore the park and make it beautiful,” said one volunteer, a ninth grader from Benton Harbor Charter School Academy. “Anyone can come here and have fun, and you know, have fun.
Officials believe that these improvements will make a difference in the community.
“It’s exciting,” Mayor Muhammad said, describing the mood of neighborhood residents. “People are happy to see Union Park once again become vibrant and vibrant, where activities — especially for our youth — can take place this summer.”
Muhammad added that the upgrades were finalized at the perfect time, as the baseball season begins tomorrow.
“I’ll throw the first pitch tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. for our little league kickoff,” he said. “It’s so appropriate, because what is done today will benefit the children of tomorrow.”
It’s not a one-time effort; Whirlpool has confirmed that it will continue to contribute to Benton Harbor’s plan to revitalize the rest of its public parks over the next fifteen to twenty years.