Head Start officials welcome new playground equipment

Posted: October 12, 2013

The Winchester Star

Apple Country Head Start staff, board members and volunteers gather on Friday afternoon to cut the ribbon for their newly installed playground equipment. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Volunteers Roger Zebarth (from left), Webster Gibson and Doug Thomas were honored by the board of directors and staff of Apple Country Head Start for their work installing new playground equipment at the school.

WINCHESTER — Officials at Apple Country Head Start thanked local church volunteers on Friday for making their new playground a reality.

The local Head Start, a child development program at 444 Shady Elm Road, serves 162 children aged 3 to 5 in Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties. About 100 children are on the waiting list.

On Friday, program officials cut the ribbon to a new playground set that includes two slides and a climbing wall. It was assembled by volunteers from Christ Episcopal Church at 114 W. Boscawen St.

“It’s awfully important,” said Cathie Waldie, education and disabilities coordinator. “Without them, we wouldn’t have the new equipment.”

Last spring, Waldie noticed that the program’s 12-year-old playground needed upgrading.

“It was worn out,” she said, and unsafe.

In need of help, she called Rector Webster Gibson at Christ Episcopal, where she is a parishioner. Gibson, along with six other men and two boys, disassembled the former playground set and assembled the new one within a few days.

The procedure meant chopping up the previous set, taking it to the landfill and assembling the new one — which according to Gibson, was like a “big Tinkertoy set.”

“It’s one of those things we felt we were doing for a good reason,” he said.

Church member Doug Thomas said the Head Start program makes good use of its federal aid.

“In addition to our hearts going out to the children, Head Start is one of the most effective receivers of federal help,” he said.

Waldie said the volunteers’ effort saved the program about $2,000 — a big help, since sequestration cuts equaled $56,000 last year.

The other volunteers were David Bicking, Pat Kofalt, Roger Zebarth, John Nelson, his son Jack Nelson, 10, Sandy White, and George Gibson, 12.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com