Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boselli Helps to Brighten Northside; the Ex-Jaguar Joins Volunteers Who Refurbished a Neighborhood Park

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boselli Helps to Brighten Northside; the Ex-Jaguar Joins Volunteers Who Refurbished a Neighborhood Park

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND

Tony Boselli came to the 50-year-old Moncrief Road park to show his support for the Northside.

So did 200 volunteers dressed in Day-Glo orange shirts.

"We want to get more people caring about this part of our city," said the former Jaguars offensive tackle, sounding like a football cheerleader.

"Sometimes the Northside is forgotten about," he said. "You're part of a team that went into an area of Jacksonville that not many people wanted to go into and now look at the difference."

The difference was dramatic. In just one day, volunteers from The Home Depot and Citi Card, which provides the company's credit services, had transformed the Simonds-Johnson Park and community center in the Royal Terrace neighborhood.

On Thursday, they replaced dugout roofs, built picnic tables, sandboxes and trash receptacles, repaired benches and bleachers, built gazebos, designed a hopscotch area, pressure-washed walkways and basketball courts, painted and added landscaping.

Boselli's project is a longer-term one.

His foundation is working with the city to turn the community center into a full-service site offering after-school tutoring, character development, educational resources and family and community involvement.

While having lunch with City Councilwoman Glorious Johnson, Boselli told her he wanted to do such a project - one day. Why one day, she responded. When Boselli's mother told him he hadn't talked much about it, he said it happened much quicker than anticipated.

His mother, Candy Hodgkins, has a doctorate and is senior vice president of research for Gateway Community Services, a Jacksonville treatment and referral agency. She came to the park to offer support as well.

The park renovation project is part of the Corporate Month of Service, a nationwide campaign to increase volunteerism. Hands on Jacksonville, a Volunteer Jacksonville program led by Debbie Andalora, spearheaded the project.

This is the group's second project with Home Depot, whose employees donated their time. …

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