FUSION Service Partnership Targets City Park
Providence, R.I. — A run-down, under-utilized neighborhood park in Providence will be rejuvenated through the grit and spirit of a corps of Providence College, City of Providence, and neighborhood volunteers who will unite for a major FUSION project on Saturday, April 21.
The annual spring service project involving FUSION — Friars United for Service in Our Neighborhood — will take place at a new location this year, Corliss Park, in the Eagle Park section. The focal point of the first five years of the partnership was the historic Esek Hopkins Homestead and its adjacent grounds.
Corliss Park was last renovated in the 1970s and is in desperate need of attention, noted Providence City Councilman David Salvatore. The park’s benches are outdated, the playground area has fallen into disrepair, and the two basketball courts have huge cracks.
“We’re not at the point where parents feel comfortable taking their children to Corliss Park in its current state,” said Salvatore. “The installation of modern playground equipment is an important first step in revitalizing the park and the Wanskuck community.”
Volunteers from the College, the city’s Parks Departments, and neighbors will transform the park by installing a new play structure, a swing set, benches, and a safety surface, as well as perform other maintenance projects. Work will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Among those attending will be College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, and Salvatore.
“This park has the potential to be of much greater benefit to the local community than it is at present, and we believe that our contribution will serve as the catalyst to help the city and the neighborhood move it forward to a new and higher use,” said Father Shanley.
Salvatore emphasized that the improvements “will be a huge benefit to the entire community” and return the park to a status that encourages regular recreational and physical activity by children and adults. He added that students from the nearby Veazie Elementary School and neighborhood children will be particularly pleased to have modern play equipment and a beautiful outdoor area to enjoy.
FUSION was developed by the College’s Providence President’s Council and was launched in 2007 as part of a 10-year agreement with the city. The council is a leadership group that serves in an advisory capacity to the president. It is comprised of senior executives from many of Rhode Island’s most prominent employers.
FUSION’s primary objective is to bring together volunteers from the College with Parks Department and other community representatives to improve the physical condition of historic landmarks and community parks. College volunteers include President’s Council members, students, alumni, faculty, and staff members.
Providence Parks Department officials estimate that there has been more than $100,000 of labor donated to various projects by PC volunteers, city employees, and city residents in the first five years of the partnership. The majority of the work has occurred at the Esek Hopkins Homestead complex, including new walkways and perimeter fencing in conformance with the historical structure, a new turf soccer field, and new playground apparatus.
Alumni play integral role
Another goal of the service projects is to facilitate networking between PC undergraduates and alumni, specifically young alumni, regional alumni club members, and members of the National Alumni Association Board of Governors.
Over the years, FUSION has expanded to include regional alumni clubs in communities throughout the East Coast. In addition to Providence, this spring alumni clubs are involved in FUSION projects in Boston; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Hartford, Conn.; Center Moriches, N.Y. (Long Island); and Pawcatuck, Conn.