Posted on October 10, 2013

Napa: PG&E Volunteers Enhance a Playground, Brighten a Neighborhood Gathering Spot

NAPA — About 50 volunteers needed just a few hours to transform a drab stretch of asphalt into a colorful and engaging play area for students at Shearer Elementary School.

Betsy Brunswick, a manager in PG&E's environmental remediation department, and two Shearer Elementary School students beautify the playground.

Brad Peterson, a physical education teacher at the elementary school, said there are not a lot of places for neighborhood children to play in the area.

“I think that it is great that PG&E has come out to help our school and beautify our playground and campus,” Peterson said. “The kids are the ones that are going to benefit the most and we are very grateful for that.”

PG&E and community volunteers worked with Playworks, a non-profit organization that works to increase play areas in schools. The volunteers gathered on Saturday (Oct. 5), using bright paints to draw game boundaries, multipurpose four-squares, and imaginative exercises on the school’s recess and play areas.

The PG&E/ Playworks partnership aims to promote community vitality and provide a positive presence in communities, said Jennifer Lujan with PG&E’s community relations department. This effort was a collaboration with PG&E’s Environmental Remediation staff, which is working on projects in the Napa area.

Improvements includes game boundaries, multi-purpose four-square areas and imagination exercises.

“PG&E has remediation projects all over Northern and Central California, and what’s great about an event like this one,  is that we’re making a difference and getting to meet and know the neighbors in our communities at the same time.” said Betsy Brunswick, a PG&E environmental remediation manager.

“ ‘Be safe, be responsible, and be respectful’ is the Napa Unified School Districts’ mantra which also embodies how we do approach our work in environmental remediation, according to Andrea Gooden, PG&E’s environmental remediation stakeholder engagement manager.  “We take responsibility for environmental impacts from our historic operations, approach our work in ways that promote public and worker safety, and respect the local community.”

The improved play area gives Shearer’s nearly 550 students a more organized and aesthetically appealing play area by sectioning off areas of the blacktop and providing more functional use of the space.  Teachers and volunteers say they hope the vibrant colors draw students to the playground and ignite imaginations.

Rosalia Munoz, a community member and parent of two children who attend Shearer, said most neighborhood children play at the school.

Napa’s Shearer Elementary School has become a better place for students and the neighborhood to play.

“I am grateful to PG&E because my kids are going to come to school motivated…and because of this project we are doing more things together for the betterment of the community and our kids have a better place to play,” Munoz said.

Munoz is not the only parent with this viewpoint.  Kelvin Arqueta, whose 7-year- old son attends Shearer, said, “Now my son will want to come to school and actually be more interested in his studies because he has a better area to play which motivates me to have more interest in his studies.”

This year, PG&E has provided $50,000 to Playworks to promote community vitality and to provide volunteer opportunities for PG&E employees.  PG&E has an ongoing commitment to maintain a positive presence in the Napa community as the company evaluates and cleans up a nearby historic manufactured gas plant site.  Cleanup of the site is anticipated to begin in 2016.

Volunteers from PG&E’s environmental remediation will do something similar at a Bay Point community playground in Contra Costa County on Saturday (Oct. 12).

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