Sensory walk installed at Love Our Community warehouse
LAKE TWP. – Images of a winding river, a pond with water lilies and a hopscotch pattern are part of a sensory walk created by 16-year-old Ian Palinkas for Love Our Community’s warehouse.
“A sensory walk is a path someone can take to help them get their energy out or help them refocus,” he said.
Palinkas, a Lake Middle High School student and member of Boy Scout Troop 330 of Green Valley United Methodist Church, recently installed the printed vinyl flooring that comprises the sensory walk. It’s located in the children’s area at Love Our Community’s thrift store and warehouse, 1236 Sunnyside St. SW.
Palinkas began his Eagle Scout project in 2019 and faced delays caused by the pandemic. Eagle Scout is the highest rank achievable in the Boy Scouts.
“That basically stopped the whole process because all of the companies and stuff that we were working with kind of got shut down during that time,” he said.
Another obstacle was the uncertainty surrounding Love Our Community’s location.
Kelli Viscounte, executive director of Love Our Community (LOC), founded the nonprofit in 2018 and purchased a former school in 2019 with plans to convert it into a service hub for families in need of food, clothing or housing.
However, the Hartville Village Council rejected requests for a zoning change that would permit the project on Woodland Street SW. During one meeting, speakers raised concerns about safety, parking and other potential effects on the surrounding residential area.
Viscounte said LOC sold the former school about a year ago and purchased a trailer park at the corner of Sweitzer Street and Cleveland Avenue NW. There currently are families temporarily staying in four RVs at the site.
Future plans are for eight mobile homes to provide transitional housing for people in need and one apartment to house people displaced by emergencies.
“They will have a period of time to stay with us with intensive supportive services around them,” Viscounte said, emphasizing that the transitional housing is not “halfway” housing or for people with active addictions.
Since November, the nonprofit also has operated the 6,000-square-foot thrift store.
“That is a place that is much, much more than a store,” Viscounte said.
The warehouse sells donated items with all proceeds going toward LOC’s mission to help people in need and also provides meeting space for the nonprofit. Current store hours are noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Brenda Palinkas, Ian’s mom, said her son is passionate about helping children and LOC, and she’s proud that he overcame obstacles to install the sensory walk at the store.
“He never gave up,” she said.
Ian Palinkas worked with KrzyMnky Designs, Kingsway Pumpkin Farm & Storage, Craft Adhesives and Continental Graphics USA to create the sensory walk. He raised almost $1,000 to pay for the materials and graphics.
Brenda Palinkas said they have not yet determined the total cost.
“Whatever money is left over will go back to Love Our Community to help housing inequalities in our community,” she said.