Mary Ryan, a Family Promise-Union County (NJ) volunteer from Westfield’s Church of the Holy Trinity, created a very special moment at Family Promise’s national conference in Long Beach, CA on April 9. She announced that the Ryan family will donate the funding for a new playground to an Affiliate at each Family Promise conference in memory of her son PJ, who passed away at a young age.
The first PJ’s Place in the country was dedicated on May 16, PJ’s birthday, at the Family Promise of Morris County (NJ) Day Center. Executive Director Joann Bjornson said, “This is such a wonderful and generous gift. It will allow children to go outside and enjoy a home-like environment and feel like life is normal again.”
Mary Ryan agreed. “It will be a fun, safe space where children can smile and laugh with one another under the care and help of Family Promise. We wanted to honor PJ in a way that would bring his smile, his laughter, that PJ playfulness to many children.”
She went on to speak about what motivated the gift to Family Promise, specifically. “All children are our children. All children want and need to be loved, cared for, played with and protected. And it seems to me that is exactly the mission Family Promise is so good at.”
As part of the presentation, Mary announced that next year’s recipient of a PJ’s Place will be Family Promise of Santa Clarita, in Canyon Country, CA. She closed with a quotation from Mother Theresa, “In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”