Kids playing at Palms Trailer Park

Kids playing at Palms Trailer Park

By Phil Hissom

A while back we went around Palms Trailer Park in Orlando and asked, "How could this place be more like heaven?" The number one answer by far was, "When people drive by, they'd see kids playing." The Palms is well known for lots of things but kids playing is not one of them. The answer was imaginative and hopeful and today it came to pass. While kids in the park do play in the back of the park, today they took ownership of a little plot of ground along Orange Blossom Trail. That's a lot of people driving by and seeing a place that's a bit more like heaven. The vision is becoming reality.

POLIS, who offices in the park, hosted some kids from Summit Church for a service project day. The kids were welcomed by residents and joined by several children from the park to do the work. Together, we did some painting in the community center, tended the grounds around the community gardens (left side of picture), and demolished a concrete structure that was in the grassy lot. After the work was done, the kids played a rousing game of soccer and had a blast. Everyone did an excellent job.

At the end of the day, we all gathered in the Palms Chapel (far end of the picture) to wrap things up and Maurice, one of the kids that lives in the park, took command of the podium. He got everyone's attention and said, "I'm going to speak for the community today and say, 'Thanks a lot. You guys are pretty cool. Come back if you can.'" He owned the room for a few minutes. The park is his home and he was glad to have shared it with some kids from elsewhere in the city and his friends from the park. We all smiled and couldn't help but applaud Maurice for his kind words and blessing. He was delighted to speak for the community and did a tremendous job. No one asked him to do it. In fact, I was really not sure what he was going to say. He led us all into gratitude and joy - a perfect conclusion to a great day together.

We intend to build on this and create regular opportunities for recreation and believe this vision - more like heaven - will continue to guide us. Lord willing, we'll be putting in some playground equipment in the next couple of months and partnering with Collins Recreation to roll out consistent, safe, and fun activities. We got a little closer today by moving out some debris and quite a bit closer by taking the time to really enjoy ourselves. Join us if you can. Pray for us if you can't.

Phil Hissom

Phil Hissom

Phil Hissom is the Founder of the POLIS Institute and the author of Dignity Serves. He can be reached at phil@polisinstitute.org.

Consider signing up for Dignity Serves, a six-lesson course that helps you rethink the way we serve others in our community. It teaches you to see problems differently and respond in a way that empowers those you serve rather than just meeting their immediate needs.