Daily News

Florence Bank Awards Team Jessica $5,000

BELCHERTOWN — Team Jessica Inc. has been awarded a $5,000 grant from Florence Bank, and will use the funds to support the building of Jessica’s Boundless Playground (JBP), an effort that has been ongoing for the past four years.

Once completed, JBP will be the only 100% all-inclusive playground in New England. It has been carefully designed to be a multi-generational activity structure that engages people of all ages and abilities. Every area of the playground caters to those with mobility concerns, while at the same time being fun and engaging for able-bodied people. JBP will also allow wounded veterans in long-term rehab to experience the healing power and simple joy of playing with their own children.

The playground will cost more than $475,000 to build. Team Jessica has hosted more than 15 fund-raising events over the past four years, and the efforts have raised more than $385,000, including three Community Preservation Act grants totaling $140,000 from the town of Belchertown. This total also includes several independent fund-raisers that local businesses conducted for the project, as well as many large gifts from area organizations. Last month, more than 200 volunteers came together for a weekend build event that culminated in the construction of the majority of the playground structure.

“We’re preparing for the final stages of construction — building the ramps, timing the poured-in-place rubber surface — while at the same time still conducting the last round of fund-raising,” said Patti Thornton, Team Jessica’s grant writer. “This grant comes at a perfect time, and we’re so thankful to the community-minded people at Florence Bank.”

Florence Bank’s history in community commitment is 140 years deep. No stranger to corporate social responsibility, the bank distributed $1 million to local nonprofits in the past three years alone. For the past 12 years, the bank has been allowing its customers a voice in where donations will be allotted through its Customer’s Choice Community Grants Program. This year, Team Jessica is listed on the online ballot under the category ‘Community Support,’ which can be found at www.florencesavings.com/vote. Paper ballots are located at any Florence Bank. Voting concludes Dec. 31, 2014.

“We are excited to be part of this extraordinary effort to bring an all-inclusive playground to Belchertown,” said Florence Bank President and CEO John Heaps Jr. “The enthusiasm and support for this project is overwhelming. We are happy to be part of it.”

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