(Front row, l-r) Kumar Mahadevan, Jo Rutstein, Sarah Lodge, Heather Gillon and Children First vice president Carol Butera; (back row, l-r) Bob Stabaugh, Par Reid, Jim Henry, Children First president and CEO Philip Tavill and David Bowman during the dedication of ‘Jo’s Place’
Rotary Club grant enriches playground, helps honor supporter of Children First
Playground upgrades made possible by $8,000 grant from Rotary Club to Children First; area named in honor of supporter Jo Rutstein

by Sharon Kunkel, Patch poster

This winter, Children First requested a grant of $8,000 from the Rotary Club of Sarasota to make improvements to the playground at its Orange Avenue headquarters. The Rotary Club funded the request in full, enabling Children First to install a “Merry-Go-Cycle,” a magnet wall, and large timber stackers.

After the items were installed, Children First used the opportunity not only to thank the Rotary Club but also to honor a longtime supporter. Jo Rutstein served on the Children First board of directors from 2009-2014, serving as board chair in 2012. She and her husband, Stan, have been wonderful supporters of Children First for many years – as donors, co-chairs of events, and friends. To honor Jo’s contributions, Children First installed a sign near the new playground equipment, naming the area “Jo’s Place.”

The new equipment is now being used by children ages 3-5 years old. It is developmentally appropriate and encourages children to learn through play, as well as help develop fine and gross motor skills.

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