The indoor basketball court at Samuel Recreation Center was noticeably different when players took the floor on Wednesday.
The floors just received a much-needed facelift thanks to efforts of the recently established Friends of Samuel Rec group and individual donations from State Farm Tom McLaughlin, Larry McKnight, and Mark Stendardo.
Port Richmond residents Cherri Beck, Renee Bernek, Shannon Mullen, and Karen Wallace formed the 501c3 friends group in the spring in response to the seemingly static situation of the remediation of the outdoor field at the rec center.
The nonprofit group raised more than $6,000 over the summer through the fall with T-shirt sales, a celebrity bartending night featuring Samuel Falcons coaches Pat Morris and Fran Wallace at Port Richmond Pub, and a 50-50 raffle for the basketball floor project.
“A lot of people were happy to donate knowing that the profit was being used toward something specific because we did say we were looking to do the gym floor,” said Beck, who serves as president of the group.
Additional funding came from Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and Richmond Square Associates LP, the company behind the ongoing townhome project adjacent to the Port Richmond rec center.
Councilman Mark Squilla provided support for the project, too, communicating with stakeholders and making an appearance at the bartending event.
“Mark has been absolutely fabulous,” Beck said. “He’s definitely been an advocate for Samuel. He’s been helping push things forward.”
Friends of Samuel Rec took on the floor project as a special cause after working with the facility’s Recreation Leader III, Jamie Miller.
“The floors were really in poor shape and when communicating with Jamie about what the facility really needed, that was her priority after the outside,” Beck said.
“It hasn’t been done in such a long time. We’ve had a recoat a few years ago, but this was a full restoration,” Miller said. “It looks so good. [The group] has been great.”
Over the course of each year, at least five in-house youth soccer teams, six youth basketball teams, futsal, and a women’s volleyball league use the court.The cost of the project, which included sanding the entire floor, recoating, and repainting all the lines, cost approximately $10,450.
Work commenced on Monday, Dec. 6, and wrapped up on Thursday, Dec.9.
Individuals had to stay off the court until last night.
For the friends groups, it’s a welcome return that provides a safe environment for youth in the neighborhood.
“We hope it keeps children active and out of trouble,” Beck said. “We know the basketball court is used for a lot of older kids, so it does keep them off the streets.” ••