On Saturday, May 23, 2015, over 100 volunteers including 42 St. Lukers came together to build a new playground for Branches Florida City (St. Luke’s Mission Partner) exactly five years to the day after a disastrous fire destroyed the former play space in 2010.
A large fire tore through the Branches United Methodist Church and the then new playground on May 23, 2010 in the middle of the night as neighbors, staff and Branches’ children and families watched. The fire was later declared arson even though it is suspected that the fire began accidentally. Branches and the local community vowed to rebuild yet never imagined what the future would hold.
Thanks to hundreds of generous donors, Branches was able to raise over $3 million and build a brand new 11,000 sq. foot building for the Florida City and Homestead communites which now houses Branches’ Grow and Climb children and youth programs and the United Way Center for Financial Stability of South Dade. The new facility, formally named the Trish and Dan Bell Family Branches Center – Florida City Campus, opened its doors in the Fall of 2014.
The new Branches Florida City facility was complete, yet it still needed a playground for the over 200 children and youth served here after school and during Summer Shade camp. Thanks to the Batchelor Foundation, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church (UMC) and many other funders, this dream is now a reality. Branches thanks Wells Fargo for making this possible and for the kind volunteer assistance from St. Luke’s UMC, Molina Healthcare and the Homestead Correctional Institute.