Archive for Saturday, July 21, 2012

Benches sit well with community

July 21, 2012

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For 15-year-old Jordan Avery, building a bench wasn’t just a summer activity that taught on-the-job skills.

Don “Red Dog” Gardner, left, helps Deavin Fansler, 15, during an exercise program that Gardner directs at Van Go Mobile Arts in which students participate in exercises and are served healthy snacks and lunches. Pictured in the background is one of the 20 benches that will be unveiled on Friday. More than 250 benches have been created since Van Go’s Benchmark program began.

Don “Red Dog” Gardner, left, helps Deavin Fansler, 15, during an exercise program that Gardner directs at Van Go Mobile Arts in which students participate in exercises and are served healthy snacks and lunches. Pictured in the background is one of the 20 benches that will be unveiled on Friday. More than 250 benches have been created since Van Go’s Benchmark program began.

“Van Go saved my life,” he said.

Avery participated in Van Go Inc.’s Summer Benchmark project, a jobs training program for 22 kids ages 14-18. They work for 31 days to build $900 benches commissioned by businesses and private individuals. The students create blueprints, then build and decorate the benches.

At the unveiling ceremony Friday afternoon, students had a chance to see their hard work pay off. A drum rolled as all 22 lined up with their patrons to pull drop cloths off their creations.

Avery, whose bench was commissioned by Hilda Enoch for Babcock Place, said the project helped him to “lift away” some of his emotional issues. “I realized how important I am and that I bring something to the world,” he said. “Once I realized that. I knew I couldn’t do it (commit suicide).”

The bench project also helped out some of the donors. Bob Beebe, or Santa Bob, who has been playing Santa around town for 30 years, said it allowed him to give back to Kansas University’s Schiefelbusch Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, where he spent time in rehabilitation after suffering a brain injury 12 years ago. He noticed the clinic needed a bench, so he donated all of his yearly Santa earnings to Van Go and with the help of other donors paid for a bench to put in front of the center.

“Seeing it brought tears to my eyes,” he said.

The program is in its 15th year. There are currently 250 Van Go benches around Lawrence.

Comments

Getaroom 2 years, 11 months ago

Great story from a valuable organization in our community. Way to go kids and way to go Van Go!

Ragingbear 2 years, 11 months ago

Nice, except that it is illegal to sit on benches in the city now due to Simon's Law.

Bigdog66046 2 years, 11 months ago

Instead of a picture of exercise, would have been nice to have picturs of the benchs that the whole article is about!!

greenworld 2 years, 11 months ago

that star wars one I would pay alot of money for....how do I have one made for myself??

Emily Mae 2 years, 11 months ago

The great part is that you don't have to pay a lot of money! They're only $900 - which is a steal for functional art!

There's more info at http://www.van-go.org/benchmark/ - you should sign up early if you want a bench - they only do 20 a year.

Our company commissioned one this year - best. decision. ever!

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