A place to remember
Work started for first phase of YMCA Outdoor Center project
When Ken and Cindi Malcom unexpectedly lost their daughter Mary Beth in 2006, the YMCA family, of which the Malcoms are an integral part, wanted to celebrate and remember her life but did not know exactly how.
That is until plans for the YMCA Outdoor Center got the ball rolling and provided the opportunity and the location for Mary Beth’s Place, a community playground designed by the Malcoms along with their friends and family.
“We knew that we wanted to do something to honor her (Mary Beth),” said Covington Family YMCA Director Louly HayKapp. “We asked the Malcoms if that would be a fitting way to remember her. We’ve had the plans and hopes for a long time to build an outdoor center then this came along as a way to honor her and her family.”
Mary Beth’s Place will provide the centerpiece to the Covington Family YMCA Outdoor Center with a tentative completion date set for sometime this summer.
For Ken, the project is another example of the Covington community’s support of his family.
“We’re honored and humbled,” Ken said of the project. “We’re excited that they’re going to do this. This is a place where thousands of children will get to play and have fun. Even after we’re gone, kids will get to play there.
“This means the whole world to us,” he added. “Not many people have parks and playgrounds named after them. I’m as proud as I can be, but I’m humbled and honored at the same time.”
Ken said the playground is the perfect way to honor Mary Beth, who would have been more than excited to have a playground named in her honor.
“If you think about a 5-year-old who loved to play, she would have certainly rather had a playground named after her instead of a street or something,” Ken said. “The people at the Y knew that this is the way she would want to be remember.”
The playground is also a KaBOOM! project. KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization that creates, along with the community, playgrounds inspired by the visions of children who will use the facility. Celebrating twelve years of service in 2008, KaBOOM! rallies communities to achieve better public policy, funding and public awareness for increased play opportunities nationwide.
Design meetings were held on April 3, which is one of the first steps in making Mary Beth’s Place a reality. Children met with KaBOOM! representative Natalie Proffit to give their input as to what kind of equipment they would like to see in the playground.
Following the children’s meeting Proffit met with the Malcoms and other adult organizers and planners to discuss input gathered from the children’s meeting and to develop the final design plan for the playground.
The build day for Mary Beth’s Place has been set for June 5. Fundraising for the project, according to Hay-Kapp, has only just begun.
Mary Beth’s Place is only one component of the larger Covington Family YMCA Outdoor Center, which is currently in the planning and fundraising stages.
The outdoor center will also be home to the Chase Cain Memorial Soccer Field in honor of Chasen Edward “Chase” Cain who died in October 2004. He is the son of Eddie and Dawn Cain and brother of Andrew and Marley Cain.
Decision to make: Chase was a YMCA After School Program employee, who died in a car crash in 2004.
Several naming opportunities are still available in the outdoor center including four multi-purpose fields, a multi-use trail, four Day Camp gazebos, six park benches, a founder’s wall and a donor monument. Founder’s Walk bricks are also available to those wanting to honor or remember a loved one.
The campaign goal for the entire project is $3 million. Contributions can be made to the Covington Family YMCA. Pledges can be made and donated over a three year period. For information or to become involved with the project, contact Louly Hay-Kapp at (770) 787-3908.
Ken Malcom encouraged those interested in getting behind a project to get involved in the YMCA Outdoor Center project.
“We’re moving forward with this (outdoor center) but we’re still short of our goal for the first phase of the outdoor center,” Ken said. “This is everybody’s park, and if you’re looking for a great cause to get behind, this is a great cause to get behind.”
For Hay-Kapp, the project is a way to make the community stronger.
“I think, as a resident of Newton County, that we have very little green space and gathering spots,” Hay-Kapp said. “The outdoor center is going to be open to the public during the times when a YMCA program isn’t going on.
“We hope to have it open from dawn to dusk for everyone whether they want to play Frisbee or walk on the walking track,” she added. “I think it will be an asset to the county.”
Kathy Kitchens, center, looks over playplace designs with Ken (left) and Kathy Malcom on Thurday during the Mary Beth’s Place design day. The playplace is being built in honor of Mary Beth Malcom, the daughter of Ken and Cindi, who died suddenly at the age of 5.