As president of the Barrington Junior Women’s Club (BJWC) this year, Erin Shechtman felt inspired to give back in a way that was in keeping with the club’s 80th anniversary. BJWC’s mission is to improve the lives of women, children and seniors in the community. Throughout the year, BJWC provides numerous services for the community and also raises funds for grants and college scholarships. Over the course of its 80 year history, BJWC has also been a catalyst in large capital projects, such as Pepper Tree House, Safety Town Permanent site, Memorial Park and the Children’s Emergency Waiting Room at Good Shepherd Hospital. This project will continue the tradition of partnering with the community to meet unmet needs in Barrington.
With former BJWC president Chrissie Mena as her mentor and BJWC’s first vice president Mary Dale at her side, Shechtman set out to build a splash pad for the community.
“When we began to look for unmet needs in our community, as well as something that everyone could use—from young children to their grandparents—a splash pad made so much sense,” she says. “When my children were younger, I was always looking for ways to be outside with them on summer mornings, wishing something like this splash pad existed. It became very clear to us, very quickly, that this is something BJWC could do.”
With a vision in place, Shechtman approached Terry Jennings, director of the Barrington Park District with her idea. “The park district had envisioned a splash pad for years, but limited funds made it a challenge for us to move forward,” explains Jennings. “When the BJWC came to us and wanted to celebrate their 80 years by partnering on a splash pad, we were delighted.”
The splash pad will be located in Langendorf Park and is designed to be ADA accessible, interactive, and fun, with 19 water spray features and will be open from spring until fall. BJWC has committed to spear-heading the fundraising for two-thirds of the $600,000 budget the project will cost.
It is seeking funding through three major avenues: grants from other community organizations such as the generous $70,000 in grant money received in April from the Barrington Area Community Foundation (BACF); support from Barrington Children’s Charity; sponsorship opportunities from private families and organizations; and funds raised directly by BJWC specifically for the splash pad. The park district will contribute the difference and will assume all other associated costs with long-term maintenance of the splash pad in the years to come. The project construction will start this summer and will be completed in this year.
The splash pad has been designed with special sensitivity for children with special needs. “I can’t wait for my daughter to get to use the splash pad,” says Rachel Sepe, a Juniors member for the last seven years and mother to 5-year-old Scarlett. Scarlett was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type II at the age of eight months.
SMA causes degenerative muscle weakness similar to ALS and, as a result, leaves Scarlett unable to participate in many activities that other children enjoy, especially in the summer.
“A splash pad would allow Scarlett to play on an equal level with other children in our community, giving her self-esteem a huge boost,” Sepe says. “The splash pad will stimulate and engage children of all abilities while allowing caregivers an accessible place to enjoy in Barrington.”
With great excitement, BJWC is looking to engage the community to raise the remaining funds needed to break ground on the splash pad. They are actively seeking donations at various contribution levels in order to meet their goal. Two specific opportunities available now are benches within the splash pad at the $5,000 level and mosaic tiles at the $1,000 which will be incorporated into the splash pad’s aquatic themed design.
“I am so proud of what BJWC has accomplished so far and am looking forward to giving this much-needed gift to
Barrington,” Shechtman adds. “I am also so excited to be a part of the cross-collaboration of people and organizations working together for a common purpose. As a community, I know we can meet our goal.”
To learn more or to make a donation, visit barringtonsplashpad.com.