Curious citizens, clergy and city officials were among the packed-house crowd gathered at Johns Street Community Center Thursday evening to learn about plans to get a new playground constructed at E.S. Bishop Park.
During the meeting, C.A.R.E. Advisory Board member Orma Smith unveiled a check for $15,000. The money is intended to seed what was described as the “second largest project” C.A.R.E. Foundation has ever done in the community.
“This is the second single biggest check C.A.R.E.’s ever written and I’m really excited about it. We want to start something great in this part of the community and we want to start with a playground for the children,” said Smith. “I say ‘start’ because I don’t want it to be the end.”
The new playground project will cost around $45,000, and with the seed money, the community members have now been commissioned with a goal — to raise the additional $30,000 in 30 days.
“The challenge to you and me is that we have 30 days to raise $30,000, and it’s going to take all of us pulling together ... all of us working together. If we do that in 30 days, then I think we can have a playground installed and have the children playing on it by September,” said Smith.
The C.A.R.E. Board member emphasized that enthusiasm for the project within the community will be essential and community members will need to be willing to ask their family members, their friends, their churches to help contribute to the project.
“No one we have asked so far has said ‘no’ to us,” said Corinth Alderman J.C. Hill.
Smith praised the people who showed up for the meeting, saying that it took “courage” to be part of the project.
“Each one of you showed some courage tonight by coming out. It took courage to come. It would be easier and more convenient to not come, but you showed the courage to come and make a difference. That courage is what this community has been built on.
“Only through your courage to do what’s right for these kids, can this be done. There’s a million reasons we shouldn’t do this, and only one reason we should, and that’s because we have the courage to do what’s right for the children in this community,” Smith said.
He provided a background of vision for the community gathered at the meeting.
“In 1999, six men showed their courage — four of them are in the room tonight — they signed to start a community foundation with a gift from their own pocketbook to create what’s called ‘C.A.R.E.’ That’s Corinth-Alcorn Reaching for Excellence, and on that night they said, ‘We’re going to build an endowment so that every year there will be money to do things in this community to make it a better place to live,” he said.
Answering questions from the crowd, Smith advised that the playground was ADA approved and will have wheelchair ramps to make the playground accessible. He also noted that if the community raised more than the needed $30,000, then there would be a discussion regarding another project.
“I have a vision. I can see this going further than just this project ... this is only the beginning,” said Hill.
“We that live in the community are going to have to stand up and give,” said Marcus Simmons.
Just as the evening’s meeting was winding down, the Rev. Kim Ratliff of St. Mark Baptist Church/ City of Corinth Code Enforcement Officer, added one final comment, “I just have to say that I think E.S. Bishop is smiling down on us right now.”
(Donations to the C.A.R.E. Playground Project at E.S. Bishop Park can be mailed to: Corinth-Alcorn Reaching for Excellence, P.O. Box 239, Corinth, MS 38835. Please make checks payable to C.A.R.E. Please see future editions of the Daily Corinthian for fundraising updates.)