Pilesgrove-Woodstown, New Jersey, is a small community with a big heart. In 2007, the community rallied together to build a playground in honor of John Vascek, Jr., a local young man who died in a motorcycle accident in 2004. “His family established the John Vascek, Jr. Memorial Foundation to keep his name alive, while donating to charitable causes. John loved children, so it was a perfect fit for the foundation to fund a new playground that would also be a memorial,” recalls Jamie Danner, treasurer of the Pilesgrove-Woodstown Recreation Commission’s board of directors.
With funding in place, the commission interviewed play-ground design consultants and connected immediately with General Recreation, Inc. “We hit it off,” says Danner. “They were professional and fun— an awesome combination.”
General Recreation’s “Prince of Playgrounds,” Michael Wiley agrees. “We also connected because our company and the
than 100 EVOS playgrounds in the United States and only a handful in New Jersey, Pilesgrove-Woodstown was excited to have a unique playground. It wasn’t difficult to garner community-wide support.
The commission was ecstatic that General Recreation and Wiley would not only design the playground, but also manage construction and oversee having the community build. The winter season was getting closer, so efforts were sped up to organize the community build.
On February 29 and December 1, 2007, more than 50 community members helped build the John Vascek, Jr. Memorial Playground for the community’s 100- acre park complex. With a winter storm scheduled to hit that weekend, the team rallied together and finished a day ahead of schedule. Wiley was impressed by the diversity of the work crew.
“Teenagers, moms, dads, neighbors who didn’t even know they were neighbors, you name it, everyone was there…It was an amazing community build—potentially the best ever,” says Wiley.
“The Vascek and Ostrum families were also there to help with the build. They were determined to honor John’s name,” adds Danner.