Volunteers in Parchester Village build park, and community

on October 27, 2014

With assembly line efficiency, more than 300 Richmond residents—from Point Richmond to the Iron Triangle—came together to rebuild Parchester Park on Saturday.

Despite overcast skies and brief showers, volunteers of all ages, alongside politicians and city employees, transformed the blighted two-square acre property behind Parchester Neighborhood Center into a fully functional playground, baseball diamond, gazebo, children’s garden, picnic area, and open park space.

“This looked like a sad, forgotten place,” said event organizer Mitzi Revas. “It needed hope breathed into it.”

Revas’ company, Livie & Luca kids’ shoes, funded the materials and teamed up with the city to recruit volunteer and organizational support for Saturday’s build, which fell on national Make a Difference Day.

“I just want this neighborhood to come outside and feel safe,” she said.

Ellis Dozer, a resident volunteer who grew up on the block with his three brothers, has watched the once-prominent Parchester Village fall into despair and neglect.

“Can we hold this?” Dozer said, gesturing to the bustling park. Kids and adults painted the pavement, filled wheelbarrows with wood chips, planted trees along the fence, and assembled and erected a brand new playground. A live DJ kept the beat going under the tent, while a BBQ lunch buffet waited for hungry volunteers.

“I’m more than happy, but we can’t fall back into what feels normal,” Dozer said.

Alicia Knightengale, a Richmond recreation program coordinator, said everybody in the city deserves access to open park spaces, and projects like this are the perfect way to involve the people whom the city serves, “to build community with the community.”

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