SaMP Kids Compassionate Kids Club – End of Year Party

Today we enjoyed our end of the year party by letting the kids run and play at the park! We gave out Community Service Awards (if your kiddo didn’t make it out today make sure you contact Chrissi to get their award) for all the hard work they put in this year!

We are so grateful for our parent and kid volunteers (and of course Mr Adam who volunteers his time after school every week to keep the kids entertained) and we could not be more proud of all of the hard work everyone put in this year. We love our SaMP Kids group and we’re a little sad to see it go for the summer, but we can’t wait to see everyone in again September! Have a great summer!

SaMP Kids is a free LEARN program thanks to the generosity of our donors and sponsors!

We are so close! SaMP Park Project

Recently we met with the City of Frederick Parks and Rec Commission. The purpose of the meeting was to go over the legal documents (MOU) that will dictate who is responsible for what in regards to the Sophie and Madigan’s Playground Park Project at West Side Regional Park near Butterfly Lane. We’ve been working the the deputy director, and city engineer for several months pulling this together. Last night the meeting was short and oh so very sweet when the project was brought up the MOU was approved unanimously. Our next steps will finalize that approval. First we will sit with the Board of Alderman at their workshop on June 6th at 3pm. Then we will go in front of the Mayor for final approval. This should all happen quickly and it’s possible by that by the end of June we will be ready to hit the road running! We know that this has been such a long process and even we wondered if we would ever get to this point, but now we’re here! The time line should move very quickly with the park access road, the parking lots, and equipment pads for our park going in *this* fall. We are very excited to be here. There was a lot of “blood sweat and more than enough tears to get us here! We will be a part of the West Side Regional Park System where eventually there will be ball fields and proposed pools etc etc. We are grateful to the City for working with us to make this a reality ~ This Butterfly Lane location was the original location that we asked about when we sat down with the city in 2013! We still have work to do but we are closer than ever to building this amazing destination park that will benefit our community and honor our sweet Sophie and Madigan.

Five years ago

Five years ago two of our beautiful girls we taken from us. Half our family gone in the blink of an eye. Our sweet and giving Sophie. Our precious spunky Madigan.

Five years ago we lost our pets. Our Kenny and Creedance the cats Jack and I got when we first moved in together. Our Raff the kitten we raised from the time he was born. Our puppy J.Humphrey who we got to help sooth the broken hearts of 3 little girls who lost their big buddy Baxter, our mastiff, just months before.

Five years ago we lost our home and every possession. No more coming home to the house where all of our babies were born.

Five years ago we lost our identity.

Five years ago at this very moment I sat in shock and confusion still covered in soot and ash my hair crisp and tangled struggling to take deep full breaths of air.

Five years ago at this very moment my oldest daughter was in a medically induced coma. The drone of the machines in the PICU helping my tiny girl breath ringing in my ears as I sat terrified we would lose her too.

Five years ago at this very moment I sat desperate to be comforted by Jack but he was all alone in another icu for the burns and inhalation from trying to save our babies.

Five years ago I thought I could never make it through one more moment.

Five years ago I couldn’t feed my baby.

Five years ago our family was shattered, nothing could ever be the same.

Today we are overwhelmed by the continued support of our friends, families, and strangers who have one family along the way. We know despite our devastation the girls are not forgotten. We know that our mission to honor them by helping to build an amazing park, and stronger family bonds through our programs is making a difference in our community and that means more than we can express. This journey has not been easy, there are days when taking one more step feels impossible but we are stronger because of your support. 💙💗

Park Progress – Excited and a little scared

I’m so excited and admittedly a little scared for what this day has in store for us. Tonight we will sit down with 3 companies who have been working on a preliminary design for the park. These teams have met with us several times, they’ve poured their time and energy into a presentation.  Now it’s finally time to hear them and make a choice.

Why am I scared? Well, it’s a huge step for making the memorial park a reality. We’ve barely gotten started, and we’ve had so many times when it felt like we were almost there, only to have it pulled away. We’re finally here. We’re getting started with the the nitty gritty, choosing vendors, and making sure the city is happy with the things we’re planning. This is really happening. I’m scared of the park being built and then feeling a loss of purpose. Everyone has been so focused on the park aspect of SaMP that I feel like our efforts to get the programs which reflect the rest of our mission are going to be pushed aside. My brain knows this won’t happen because the organization we created for the girls is more than just a park – it’s a lifelong purpose to help kids and their families to PLAY LEARN & CREATE.

Why am I excited? Seriously how could I not be excited? Jack and I, and our board and volunteers, have had this vision for the park, how it would make people feel, how it would help our community, how it would help us feel a little less broken, since a very short time after we lost Sophie and Madigan. We’ve worked so hard, we’ve had tears of frustrations, we’ve had tears of elation, and we’ve gotten to a point of reserved excitement waiting for progress. Now it’s happening, this is a definitive step towards progress. 

So tonight as we sit in a room at the library with these teams of people, who I have become emotionally invested in, I have a lot of hope there is a very clear step forward. I’m ready to take this step. Our board, that has patiently met month after month for the last 4 years, is ready for this step. The park will be a very concrete way for people to see that their donations, their emotional investment, their hard work, and dedication to the plan will pay off. There were certainly times when it felt like it wouldn’t happen. I keep reminding myself not to to jump the gun and realize there will still be delays and set backs – but also feeling really positive about a concrete step forward. 

Sophie & Madigan Lillard Memorial Park

We are closer than ever to starting to build the park. As a part of the Frederick City Park system, we will work closely with the city on the planning and the development of the land they have generously approved for this use. The park is located on approximately 10 acres of land at the west end of Frederick City, where the VFW gold course currently stands. It’s location is ideal to serve a currently under served section of our community, as well as being easily accessed from major highways. This makes the park highly accessible to visitors from the city, all over our county, and states of Maryland, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The current plans for the park include fully accessible whimsically themed play areas, walking trails, shared use paths, pavilions, memorial gardens, and an outdoor amphitheater. In November our board will be presented with three preliminary designs, and budgets from three park developers. From there the board members will be asked to  narrow down to one! This is such a big exciting step. We can’t wait get past this step and on to the hard work of making this dream a reality.

blog.jpgPark Rough Draft by ~ Chrissi Lillard

Park Draft Details

Entrance Pavilion

* carousel themed * memorial pavers * seating/picnic area * “stained glass” sections for roof * surrounded by butterfly “garden” * carousel horses in gardens

Wonderland Garden
* fully accessible * sensory tunnel * flower and butterfly shades * mushroom play structure * climbing web * nest swing * “tea party” sound garden * queen of hearts “croquet” course * flower stalk swing set *bright memorial bench seating

Fantasyland
* castle/tower play structure * jousting horse ride-ons * dragon slide * floating lantern shades * drawbridge course * “princess cottage” playhouse * pumpkin carriage * diamond “mine” mining train * carousel spin ride

Neverland
*skull rock climbing/play structure *tic toc croc climbing sculpture * pirate ship play structure * ship sail shades *Mr Smee row boat * teepee “playhouse” * pirate “zip line” *mermaid lagoon tot spot

Amphitheatre
* tiered seating for 300 * rental opportunity * community gathering * memorial pavers/tile