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Dream Center of Lakeland transforms rundown city block into community park

5th and Kettle Kids Club Park
Posted at 7:04 PM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-01 19:04:39-04

LAKELAND, Fla. — A once rundown city-owned block in Lakeland is now a community resource.

“Fifth and Kettles was the highest crime area in Lakeland. There were actually five bars on this corner,” said Dream Center of Lakeland Executive Director Michael Cooper.

The nonprofit Dream Center of Lakeland has transformed the inner-city intersection into Kids Club Park. The project, which is funded solely through donations, began five years ago. The outdoor stage and covered pavilion were the final pieces of the park.

“We dug up a rifle and a shotgun right back here where the pavilion's at now,” said Cooper.

One of the first features built at Kids Club Park was the community garden which supports the dream center's cafe and soup kitchen.

“We have various different herbs and cherry tomatoes and different melons and different things that grow in the season, and I resource some of those things that we make here,” said Dream Center Café Chef Shwetha Mangal Vedkar.

It is not only the people from this neighborhood reaping the benefits.

“There’s a great need right now. Now we’re starting to see some middle-class people, maybe because the economy’s changing that they’re also looking for food,” said Cooper.
Plans to build a public bathroom with a shower house is in the works. The hope is the park will be a place to hold monthly community events.

“This becomes an oasis. You have this nice stage, nice pavilion, then you got this garden in the middle of this community and this makes people feel better,” said Cooper.