The Gary Common Council on Dec. 19 recognized three Indiana University Northwest graduate students for improvement efforts they undertook last summer in the city’s Pachter Park as part of a class project.
Second-year Master’s of Social Work students Sandy Schaeffer and Kristi Pryatel, both of Valparaiso, and Michelle Taggart, of Hobart, chose Pachter Park, located at 2300 Whitcomb St. in Gary’s Tarrytown neighborhood, as the focus of a summer project assigned to them by Prof. Beth Eldridge, of Crown Point. The trio assessed the park’s needs, solicited material donations from local businesses, including Target, Home Depot and Hobart Lumber, and even brought toys, bikes and other items for neighborhood children to help get them involved in the project.
“We showed them how we were cleaning up the park, and the kids really helped us out,” Taggart said.
The renovation, carried out during a number of summer Saturdays, involved more than just picking up litter, she said.
“We cut grass, picked up garbage, painted, repaired equipment, everything,” Taggart said.
“There was a lot of mulch,” Pryatel added. “And a lot of sunburns.”
The end result of the students’ work was a community park much improved in appearance and functionality. At the Gary Common Council meeting on Dec. 19, Council Vice President and 4th District Councilwoman Carolyn Rogers commended the students and their professor for turning a class project into a positive venture for Gary’s youth.
“I was elated to see what a major difference they had made at the park,” Rogers said. “It was absolutely beautiful.”
Rogers awarded Schaeffer, Pryatel, Taggart, and Eldridge certificates of appreciation on behalf of the council.
“I thought it would be very fitting to thank them and acknowledge them for all of their hard work and for making Gary a better place, especially for the children,” she added.
The students’ professor was equally complimentary of their efforts.
“The assignment was that they had to effect some kind of change in the community,” Eldridge said. “And they did a very nice job.”
Schaeffer said the project at Pachter Park showed her just how much good can be accomplished with only a little bit of planning and hard work.
“We had a great time doing it, and the community was very appreciative,” she said.