Matthew’s Hope is building a preschool for guests and neighborhood children that will feature a sensory learning playground. The playground, built on our property Saturday December 6, is a gift from the East Orange Kiwanis Club as part of the group’s Kiwanis International Centennial project.
Kiwanis Club members Sharlene Dewitz and Michael Patience settled on Matthew’s Hope when they were looking for a site for a playground. As part of Kiwanis International’s Centennial Celebration in 2015, Kiwanis clubs are building playgrounds for communities.
Dewitz and Patience “played Lewis and Clark and set out to look for land for a playground,” Dewitz said. “We found Matthew’s Hope, Pastor Scott told us about his plan for a preschool and it all came together.”
Dewitz and Patience were very excited. “We had a check list for our build,” said Dewitz. “It needed to be in an area where children need it, in an area where we could see children learning and socializing. I really can’t think of any better place for it.”
Dewitz remembered the organization because her daughter’s nonprofit, Just 1 Book, had donated books to Matthew’s Hope clients in the past. “By doing these book distributions in the community, I’ve learned that Orlando nonprofits really work together, even if they do the same thing,” she said. “When I can connect people, it is better than any feeling.”
Orange County Commissioner Scott Boyd said, “Matthew’s Hope has been a leader in confronting homelessness and this playground will provide a much needed asset to children and families. On behalf of our county mayor and commissioners, we thank the Kiwanis for their continued commitment to community service and generous gift to Matthew’s Hope.”
A fence was built on Wednesday, December 2. The playground followed on Saturday, built inside a courtyard with natural shade. The ministry’s organic garden is a few yards away.
“The playground we are building can be adapted over time, with new pieces. It’s also great because we can incorporate it into our teaching,” Pastor Scott said. The playground will be built on Saturday December 6 and dedicated to the community when Kiwanis International President Dr. John Button makes a Centennial Tour stop in the Orlando area in February.
“This is going to be great for our children,” said Pastor Scott Billue, founder and chairman of Matthew’s Hope. “We realized children of our clients were not growing mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Starting this preschool will allow us to offer free preschool education and the playground lets us incorporate play into our environment.”