Sep. 09, 2016 by Ashley Brewster, Landscape Architect Analyst, Kimley-Horn and Ky Stephens, Landscape Architect, Kimley-Horn

Success Story: Southeast Dallas Gets a New Playground

CareCenter Ministries is a beacon of hope within the Pleasant Grove community and its surrounding neighborhoods. They have responded to a calling to assist the people of Pleasant Grove with many physical needs such as hunger, domestic abuse or substance abuse, and by offering youth programs. The compassion and kindness they show to all in need also serves another purpose – people grow to know Jesus Christ, begin to value themselves again and find a sense of purpose in their life.

A Seemingly Hopeless Neighborhood

The CareCenter team continuously commits their time, energies, passions, careers, and resources to keeping this center open and available to all those in need. Their location is critical. A third of Pleasant Grove’s population lives below the national poverty level and 43 percent of those under the age of 25 have not completed high school. This situation has created a neighborhood with an overall crime risk three times the national average, ranking Pleasant Grove in the top five percent of communities for juvenile arrest.

These numbers seem overwhelming, hopeless even, for this small team to influence. However, they have a unique approach to serving others – they provide love first and foremost to all who come to them, and in turn begin the healing process one person at a time. Each success story becomes another powerful symbol of hope in the community and continues to fuel further change and progress.

An Idea to Sustain Change

A substantial amount of CareCenter’s efforts goes to creating a positive and encouraging environment for the youth of the community through tutoring, mentorship and discipleship programs. They organize after school programs, a youth basketball league, summer camps and various other programs designed to build relationships and positively affect the future of the kids that come to them. Their current facilities include an impressive basketball gym, colorful classrooms and an array of small meeting areas inside the building, however, they lacked outdoor play space.

The need for an outdoor play area was magnified since there was only one other outdoor playground within a one-mile radius of CareCenter, located at a public school. The CareCenter team identified this as a critical need for serving the community, and placed high priority on creating an outdoor play space to attract and encourage kids to keep coming back.

Turning Ideas into Reality

Because of this critical need, TREC Foundation provided grant funding and volunteered services to make CareCenter Ministries’ dream of creating a playground for these kids come true. TREC members provided landscape architectural and contractor guidance and connections while the CareCenter Men’s Recovery Work group performed much of the manual labor.

Thanks to the efforts of both CareCenter Ministries and TREC Foundation, a bright and modern play structure now whimsically centers the space. Community volunteers planted shrubs and flowers, a daily reminder of the dynamic nature of nurturing plants and people. All of this is back dropped by a two story mural wall, showing a cross and beautiful elements from nature.

CareCenter Ministries provides a place of refuge for broken people, a place to seek counsel and help, free from judgement and consistently surrounded by love. Now, with TREC Foundation’s support, they have a beautiful playground and a fantastic outdoor space to meet the needs of the community with enhanced year round ministry programs. This playground will encourage adults and children alike to rediscover laughter and enjoy the sunlight together. It will serve as a community memory maker of laughter and play for many years to come.

Also, special thanks to our fellow TREC member Cache Tankersley, Hill & Wilkinson for providing your time and talent to CareCenter Ministries.