The Sherm and Wanda Olsrud Family today announced contributions to the Bear Creek Park playground replacement project that will soon bear their well-respected last name.
The significant donations were made from the family and from the Oregon Community Foundation’s Olsrud Fund. When built in October, will be named “The Olsrud Family Community Playground” in honor of the family’s longtime community philanthropy.
The family issued the following statement:
“The Olsrud Family would like to thank the City for this amazing honor. We appreciate all that the community has done to support our family and employees over the 50 plus years we have been in Medford. The kids and families are our future and we believe in supporting great programs and projects such as this. We are excited to see so many of our customers and employees are helping to build this playground. Good job and thank you Medford!”
Sherm and Wanda Olsrud lived across Siskiyou Boulevard from the Bear Creek playground for decades and were heavily engaged in the community efforts that resulted in the construction of the wildly popular castle-like play structure in 1988. Besides making a major financial contribution toward playground construction, the Olsruds also helped feed the hundreds of volunteers during the four-day construction process.
The now-retired founders of Sherm’s Thunderbird Markets and Food 4 Less are prolific supporters of numerous local causes, particularly those benefiting youths including 4-H, KidTime, the Rogue Valley Y, Kids Unlimited, Boy Scouts of America, the Maslow Project, St. Mary’s School and Southern Oregon University. In addition to funding major capital campaigns, the Olsruds are longtime contributors to the ACCESS nutrition program.
Rejuvenating the popular fort-like playground with a similar style using modern material was identified as a high-priority capital improvement project for the 2017-19 funding cycle. The City teamed up with JWA Public Affairs, the Medford Parks and Recreation Foundation, the Medford School District, and Leathers Inc. to replicate the original 1987-88 community design-and-build process and to galvanize fundraising and community engagement.
The Medford City Council voted unanimously to re-name the new playground in honor of the Olsruds on April 5.
The donations are a giant step forward in the City of Medford’s and the Medford Parks and Recreation Foundation’s efforts to raise at least $610,000 to replace the 30-year-old wooden Bear Creek Park playground with a modern custom-built structure to within approximately $50,000 of the goal.
Al Densmore and John Watt of JWA Public Affairs provided the following comments about the Olsrud donation: “When we embarked on this project in partnership with the City of Medford, both of us felt we needed an inspiration to guide our work. Naming the playground for Sherm and Wanda and their family in honor of their history of giving and leadership provided that inspiration. We did so neither asking nor expecting that they would contribute to this project, but we are extraordinarily grateful and humbled by their gifts. Their leadership and example has been and will continue to be a guiding light for the community’s work.”
In addition to being larger in size, the Olsrud Family Community Playground will meet or exceed Federal accessibility guidelines, will have better sightlines for supervision, and will have more climbing features and imaginative amenities for children of all ages.
Construction of the new playground is set for Sept. 29 through Oct. 6, if enough volunteers step forward to assist with the unique “community build” phase.
“The Olsruds are legends in the community for their generosity and support of a wide range of programs, and we are grateful for this amazing support of this grass-roots initiative,” Medford Parks and Recreation Director Rich Rosenthal said. “The Olsruds were instrumental in making the 1988 playground a reality, and they are doing it again 30 years later to make Bear Creek Park and Medford even better.”
For details on how to donate to the project, how to sponsor a feature, or how to volunteer, please visit www.playmedford.com