Volunteers breathe new life into Bloomington community center

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A large group of volunteers converged Friday on a community center, breathing new life into the more than 100-year-old building.

Whether it was digging up old roots, or planting new ones, each volunteer found a way to put their skills to use at the Banneker Community Center on Bloomington's west side.

"It’s been an amazing transformation," said Teri deMatas, IU Health VP of Marketing and Communications.

Volunteers from IU Health Bloomington participated in the project as part of their annual Day of Service. The group has partnered with the city of Bloomington's Parks and Recreation Department in recent years.

"To get a group of volunteers that are energized to help us do those projects that we can’t quite get to or are on our wish list is absolutely a gift that we’re really, really grateful for," Parks and Recreation Director Paula McDevitt said.

The community center, which is located in a historic school building, offers free programs for all ages throughout the year. Volunteers added a new gaga ball pit for kids to enjoy a dodgeball-like game, as well as a puppet theater for younger children. They also completely re-did the center's landscaping and removed invasive species, replacing them with more sustainable plants.

"A lot of people use (this center) for a lot of different purposes, and so we just want them to know that we care about them," deMatas said.

It took the volunteers around three and a half hours to complete their work. McDevitt expected the kids to begin using the new facilities by Friday afternoon.

"This is just another really nice event and opportunity for our staffs to get together to benefit the community," McDevitt said.

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