Dover Elks Lodge brings smiles to homeless shelter

 

The Shepherd Place shelter manager Sunny Schmidt of Dover poses on the new playground equipment at the women's shelter in Dover.

The Shepherd Place shelter manager Sunny Schmidt of Dover poses on the new playground equipment at the women’s shelter in Dover.

DOVER— The children at Shepherd Place can’t seem to get enough of the shelter’s new playground set purchased by Dover Elks Lodge 1903.

“They’re on it all of the time,” said Sunny Schmidt, shelter manager of Shepherd Place. They just absolutely love it.”

The Shepherd Place in Dover is an emergency shelter for women and children and provides their residents with relief during dire economic circumstances or homelessness.

The shelter became operational in January 1990 and reduces the degree of homelessness in Kent County and in the state of Delaware.

The playground set included a swing set, a slide and rubber mulch.

Kids staying at the shelter with their mothers like former resident Lesleigh Nelson, 3, can enjoy the new playground equipment donated by the Elks 1903 Lodge.

Kids staying at the shelter with their mothers like former resident Lesleigh Nelson, 3, can enjoy the new playground equipment donated by the Elks 1903 Lodge.

The Dover Elks Lodge received a $2,000 grant from the Elks National Foundation to purchase the equipment.

“We apply for grants every year for various causes,” said Marv Solomon, president of the Dover Elks Lodge. “We try to help the community in any way that we can. When we’re applying for grants we have to specify what we’re using it for.”

“We let them know a cost estimate and then they approve of it,” Mr. Solomon added. “We used money from another grant to help buy book bags for the children as well.”

Dover Elks Lodge applied for the Gratitude Grant, which is used to support local and charitable activities.

Lodges use Gratitude Grants to do things like buy supplies for a homeless shelter, partner with D.A.R.E. to hold drug awareness programs in schools, or hold recreational events for people with disabilities.

“We helped the shelter several times,” Mr. Solomon said. “I remembered them telling us that their playground set was in bad shape, so we thought it would be a good idea to help them out.”

Mr. Solomon said it only took a couple days to construct the new playground.

“We finished the first week of August,” Mr. Solomon said. “A lot of people helped us out. We had volunteers and employees from Lowe’s that helped us put it up.

“It’s just a great feeling helping anyway that we can.”

Ms. Schmidt said it meant a lot to the shelter to receive the playground set.

“It just brightens up the kids’ day,” Ms. Schmidt said. “As soon as they wake up they’re out there playing on it. “It’s beautiful and entertains the children, as we feel so blessed to have the Dover Elks support our shelter.”

Mr. Solomon shared the same sentiment.

“I’ve been by several times,” Mr. Solomon said. “It’s being used by the mothers that sit in the picnic area and it’s just a great scene.

“Everyone seems to be loving it and we’re glad that we were able to help.”

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