Lincoln’s premiere skilled nursing facility makes two contributions to All Veterans’ Park.
In a move that will brighten one of Lincoln’s most notable parks, Generations at Lincoln has donated its hosta plants and $400 to the fund that supports the park’s maintenance.
The greenery and cash are going to the volunteers who maintain All Veterans’ Park, 100 N. Union St. in Lincoln. Joe and Melanie Schaler lead a group of about 10 retired military personnel who are in the middle of cleaning and making capital improvements to the monument.
“We’re very grateful and very humbled and very blessed,” Joe said. “Everybody pitches in together.”
The donations arrived on June 19 from Generations at Lincoln, a skilled nursing facility located at 2202 Kickapoo St. The Generations at Lincoln staff has spent years growing about a dozen hostas (dark green, leafy plants) around the buildings’ exteriors. New administrator Miranda Witt, a central Illinois native who came to Lincoln in May, said maintaining the longstanding firm’s relationships with community groups will be a priority.
“It’s exciting for me, being new to the community, that we’re able to make the donations,” Witt said. “The hostas are really hardy, so they don’t need a lot of attention.
But All Veterans’ Park has been receiving plenty of attention in recent weeks from the Schalers and a corps of other volunteers.
The park was built in 1988 on a quarter-mile triangular island between College Avenue and Union and Pekin streets by Lincoln’s AmVets chapter. Originally, it contained numerous poles for hoisting the American flag and hundreds of red bricks paved into the ground, bearing the names of Lincoln’s veterans but resting on a foundation of gravel. Three decades of rain and snow later, that foundation has shifted and the bricks became uneven, prompting the Schalers and others to start the All Veterans Park Fund and begin its repairs.
Today, the park features seven new poles, hoisting the flags of the five armed services, the POW/MIAs and the Purple Heart recipients, plus an eighth for Old Glory; it also holds a new monument sign at the corner of Union and Pekin, donated by Fraternal Order of Eagles Post No. 2708. On June 19, the Schalers and a handful of other volunteers spent a hot afternoon pulling old bricks out of the circular walkway base, cleaning them and preparing for the addition of a concrete base for the bricks to rest on in the future.
The Schalers are habitual volunteers: In 2016, the Lincoln/Logan Chamber of Commerce picked Joe and Melanie as the grand marshals of their Christmas Parade, and Joe earned a Purple Heart while fighting for the Marines. Melanie said everyone who has worked to return All Veterans’ Park to prominence was grateful for the help of Generations at Lincoln.
“We appreciate this a lot,” she said. “This is an all-volunteer group, so to receive some attention feels great to us.”