September 22, 2022

On August 24, a new playground and basketball court officially opened at Friendship Village Apartments, a Community Housing Partners (CHP) apartment community located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. To celebrate the occasion, CHP held a party complete with a DJ, dancing, and grilled hot dogs. Free Back-to-School backpacks, as well as free haircuts were also part of the festivities.

The playground and basketball court were installed with a $220,000 with funds from a grant to CHP from the City of Virginia Beach. “This community has many parents who are looking for activities for their kids, as well as children and teenagers who will benefit from this new and improved recreational space, said Nona Hipp, CHP Hampton Roads Senior Regional Manager. “We have no doubts that the playground will be popular for the many families living here,” she added.

Community members from the Virginia Beach Police Department, Fire Department, Virginia Beach Parks Recreation, and City Council joined in the celebration.  In attendance was Michal Kirschman, Director of Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation. “The social, mental, and health impacts of having a safe and accessible place to play close to home is well established,” he said. “The new Friendship Village playground is far more than just a playground; it is an investment in the children and families that live there.” Virginia Beach Councilman Aaron Rouse, who was instrumental in bringing the playground to Friendship Village, was also present at the opening.

“Aaron grew up at Friendship Village and has been a strong advocate for the community ever since,” Hipp said, “Even after graduating from Virginia Tech and pursuing an NFL career, he has kept our residents close to his heart and found ways to give back to the neighborhood”. The idea came on an evening in June of 2021. Hipp and Rouse had gone door to door talking with parents and kids about what their wishes for recreation spaces. Most all wanted a playground and a basketball court. Rouse got the ball rolling by securing a grant from the City of Virginia Beach. 

Michelle Leonard, CHP Senior Asset Management Analyst, was involved in selecting equipment and contractors and coordinating deliveries and installation. The basketball court was installed in December of 2021.  The playground was ordered in February of 2022and was delivered in early July. By the end of July, the playground was ready to go. “We also had enough money to install more cameras and lighting at the basketball court,” Hipp remarked.

Hipp recalled a cold and rainy afternoon as she was leaving the Friendship Village office. “There were several kids on the basketball court. It made my heart feel so good because they were happy enjoying themselves,” she said. Hipp is optimistic the playground project is one of more to come: “We hope that this initiative can serve as a model for future investment in recreation spaces like the ones here at Friendship Village.”