In April, children in the Nicaraguan villages of Tortuga and Collado squealed as they slid down new slides and clambered over monkey bars. A group of volunteers from Canada had just installed their new playgrounds.
New Playground in Nicaragua
Among those volunteers was Gary Vermeulen of Alberta-based Westvac, a leading Stertil-Koni distributor.
Gary’s wife Charlotte had previously helped install playgrounds in her home community, and she had long dreamed of taking that experience internationally.
Gary’s younger brother Ron is on the board of the Mary A. Tidlund Charitable Foundation, and when the group learned that many Nicaraguan families struggle to get by on about $1 a day, they decided to take their skills south and give back to a community in need.
Playtime improves a child’s attendance and ability to learn at school, said Vermeulen.
So the group packed up used playground equipment salvaged from Canada and shipped it to Nicaragua.
Stertil-Koni, the leader in heavy-duty lifts, donated funds to help the team “lift” the spirits of the children.
However, the group faced a challenge when they arrived to start the installation. The playground equipment was delayed for several days by customs authorities.
Gary Vermeulen of Alberta-based Westva
For a time, it seemed like the trip would end in a bust, but the group overcame the obstacle. They eventually got the equipment and then installed the playgrounds in a quick two days, by working together and rallying the communities. Success was easy to see in the faces of the local kids.c
The trip was also a success for the Canadian volunteers, who felt great knowing they had made a difference in the community. It was a strong reminder that success comes in different forms, and that it often involves people and the well-being of others, as well as professional achievement.
“The volunteer work Gary, Charlotte, Ron, and the rest of the team did in Nicaragua is a shining example of how Stertil-Koni’s partners can give back to the community and make a difference,” said Dr. Jean DellAmore, president of Stertil-Koni USA.