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Black Hills Retired School Personnel Celebrates Community Challenge Grant Project

Posted on 04/18/24 by Mary Michaels

Members of the Black Hills Retired School Personnel (BHRSP) are hosting a ribbon-cutting at Market Park in Rapid City on Saturday, April 27, at 11 a.m., to celebrate the completion of their park bench project. The project, supported by funding from an AARP Community Challenge Grant in 2023, features the placement of a bench at the Farmer’s Market in Market Park and at Sioux Park.

“The members of our organization saw a need for more benches in city parks to provide points of rest and places for people to socialize,” said Vicki Sterling, local BHRSP president. “We knew about AARP’s Community Challenge Grant program, and we thought that could provide an opportunity for us to jump-start our project.”

BHRSP submitted its application for the 2023 AARP grant program and received the funding notification last May. While they could have purchased a ready-made bench, Sterling says the group felt strongly about involving students in the project. So, they approached Western Tech Community College to have a welding class design and build the benches.

“This was such a great collaboration,” says Sterling. “The welding instructor, Michael Prugh, was immediately interested in not only having the students build the benches but also being part of the design so they could learn about things like how to ensure the benches would be ADA-compliant. We’re excited that Mr. Prugh and his students will be with us for the ribbon-cutting to recognize their incredible work.”

In addition to collaborating with WTCC, the retired school teachers also sought the expertise of the Rapid City Parks & Recreation Department and the Rapid City Garden Club on the placement of the benches and any landscaping needs.

“As retired teachers, we looked at this project as a way to benefit older residents who could enjoy sitting down at the Farmer’s Market or at Sioux Park while they watch their grandchildren play. But, we know that efforts to enhance our city’s park are truly a benefit for all ages and make Rapid City an even better place to live, play and connect with each other. We hope everyone will come out and join us for this ribbon-cutting celebration, along with a delicious treat from the Fork Real café.”

BHRSP is a local unit of South Dakota Retired School Personnel, which is an affiliate of the National Retired Teachers Association, the education community of AARP. Retired teachers continue giving back to their communities in many ways after they leave their careers in the classroom. The BHRSP group meets at the Canyon Lake Activity Center on the second Tuesday at 2 p.m. from September through May.

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