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Union Kiwanis Club Earns 2019 ‘Musco Lighting Give-Back Award’
-      For Service to the Community 


Union Kiwanis Club Accepts Award

Members of the city of Union and Union Kiwanis Club were on hand to accept the 2019 Missouri Park and Recreation Association Musco Lighting Give-Back Award. The award was presented Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Hilton Branson Convention Center among a crowd of nearly 1,000 people.
Holding the plaque, in front, from left, are Rich Sandoval, Union Kiwanis Club Major Project Committee Member, and Angela Sullivan, parks director. Also shown, from left, are Ann Schroeder, club member, Earlaine Sandoval and Bruce Templer, both Major Project Committee members; Dave Sutton, club member; and Union Mayor Mike Livengood. Not shown are Eileen Wade, Sandy Thilenius, Jim Strubberg and Nancy Kossmann, all Major Project Committee members who were unable to attend the event.

Union, MO - The Union Kiwanis Club was presented with the Missouri Park and Recreation Association (MPRA) Musco Lighting Give Back Award during the 2019 MPRA Awards Banquet Thursday, February 28, at the Hilton Branson Convention Center.

The award is presented annually to an individual, public agency or organization that has made noteworthy contributions in the area of serving the underserved in the community. Selected contributions may include, but are not limited to, a specific program or facility, or any other unusually noteworthy effort to serve the underserved in the community through parks and recreation services.

The club was nominated by Angela Sullivan, parks director for the city of Union, primarily for its work on the Union Kiwanis Playground at Veterans Memorial Park. Sullivan also cited the Kiwanis Club’s more than 35 years creating activities and projects for children and families that promote education, health and wellness in the award nomination.

In 2015, Union Kiwanis Club voted unanimously to be a major contributor to the City of Union for Veterans Memorial Park (VMP), pledging $15,000. In all, donations totaled nearly $200,000.

“The club was determined to provide something to make the park a ‘dream park’ that would allow children, families and the community to make memories for many years to come,” Sullivan said. “The dream was that everyone could interact and play, no matter of individual challenges.” An all-inclusive playground did not exist in the city at the time.

The leadership of the Major Project Committee members was the driving force of the project and included Eileen Wade, Earlaine Sandoval, Rich Sandoval, Bruce Templer, Nancy Kossmann, Sandy Thilenius and Jim Strubberg. 

Numerous fundraising campaigns and events helped make the project possible. The club was selected as a finalist in the 2015 Legacy of Play Contest through Kiwanis International and Landscape Structures, which won a free piece of playground equipment valued at $6,500.

The Major Project Committee created a pledge drive, “Your Pledge to Help Kids Smile,” sent out personal letters, hosted dine to donate events at local restaurants, visited all-inclusive playgrounds to get ideas, applied for grants and hosted many other events.

After 21 months and countless hours brainstorming, planning and fundraising, the club donated $179,950 to make the playground a reality for the Union community. Seven donors donated $2,000 or more, 11 donors donated $1,000-$1,999 and 20 donors donated $500-$999. Many others pledged, volunteered and took part in events.

In one workday, approximately 40 club members donated eight hours each for the construction through the United Bank of Union’s Project United. Area firefighters, students and community members also chipped in.

The Union Parks and Recreation Department finished the work in the days to follow.

Cushioned, rubber surface for the playground was installed and made possible by a single donation by a Union resident. Bull Moose Tube donated fencing and the parks department crew installed the safety enclosure.

The playground was the largest project ever undertaken by the Union Kiwanis Club, which was recognized locally by the Union Area Chamber of Commerce at the annual Evening of Excellence Banquet with the Outstanding Community Project award.

The new playground officially opened to the public in July 2017 during the well-attended Veterans Memorial Park Grand Opening prior to the Independence Day fireworks.

“The entire community would like to thank the Union Kiwanis Club for their determination, hard work and selflessness throughout the project,” Sullivan said.

Kiwanis Thanks Donors, City

At the conference, Rich Sandoval, Union Kiwanis Club Major Projects Committee member thanked MPRA, the city, the former and current parks director, Mayor Mike Livengood, City Administrator Russell Rost and Assistant City Administrator James Schmieder for their vision and leadership. The club also thanked United Bank of Union’s Project United, donors, businesses, volunteers and the community for the support in helping create and assemble the playground.