May 28, 2020

“The front area is really nice. We didn’t have a place like that before at the school. It feels cozy and inviting for parents to come and sit when they have to come up to the school. I like it a lot.”

2nd Grade Templeton Elementary School parent

Two chairs can make a meaningful difference in making a vibrant community! In February 2020, Community Forklift’s Community Building Blocks Program provided Templeton Elementary School in Riverdale, MD, with two stylish chairs for its new Parent Resource Area — a welcoming and helpful reception area furnished with plants, rugs, new bulletin board displays, and a chalkboard door. Over 40 volunteers worked together to create the new space and paint the school hallways with bright colors.

Templeton Elementary School is one of eight schools in the area that benefited from the Greater Riverdale Place-Based Initiative, which aims to bring Riverdale communities together to address factors that affect health in order to uplift their neighborhoods and transform their environment. The initiative is a program of the Central Kenilworth Avenue Revitalization Community Development Corporation (CKAR CDC) in partnership with Kaiser Permanente and the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC).

“I do love the new welcoming aura of the school after that makeover. Our TES was in dire need of change, and the working team delivered for us in a big way.”

Templeton Elementary School teacher

CKAR CDC said that a key part of the initiative relies on a Greater Riverdale School Cohort composed of principals, community school coordinators, and parent liaisons. These stakeholders meet on a monthly basis to create and implement programs that will benefit students and the community.

According to CKAR CDC, “as part of this effort, schools have been able to request physical improvements that will improve their service to the community. The principal of Templeton, Ms. Ebony Harris, had expressed the need for these renovations in order to better welcome families. Families often wait in the lobby area of the school, in order to meet with staff and get help accessing resources. After the work of the volunteers, there is now a comfortable sitting and check-in area, with activities for children and an inviting atmosphere. The reorganization of the front office also decreased the feelings of crowdedness in the office and improved staff’s ability to serve families. Volunteers painted stripes of color along the hallways of the school, in order to brighten up the school and welcome children back.”

“The new parent reception area tells our families to come in because they are welcome. It’s bright, comfortable and spacious. The fact that parents from our school volunteered to help create that space for all of our families is really amazing. We are so grateful for the support from CKAR and the lovely new space we have to welcome our families and members of the community when they come to see us at Templeton.”

Templeton Elementary School teacher

Patricia Hayes-Parker, Executive Director at CKAR CDC, recently told us what inspires her about working at CKAR and with Templeton Elementary School. She said, “I am an architect by profession and I live in the community. My family believes that living in a community requires your personal investment of time, commitment and resources. And you must be willing to share the experience and talent that you have to effect change that is good for our neighbors, schools, businesses and institutions. CKAR allows me to use the small amount of creativity that I have to grow the organization, listen to the voices of the community and be a part of change.”

CKAR CDC is a local nonprofit that focuses on workforce and career development, environmental sustainability, business and economic development, equitable community development, and supporting the health and wellness of the community through clothing and food distribution. They continue to make progress on the Place-Based Initiative even during the COVID-19 pandemic. To find out more about the initiative, visit

Thanks to CKAR CDC, Kaiser Permanente, NDC, and all the volunteers that are working together to build a thriving, happy, and healthy community for Greater Riverdale!


Every time you donate or shop at Community Forklift, you’re helping us lift up local communities through reuse. We turn the construction waste stream into a resource stream for communities in the DC region – by keeping perfectly good items out of the landfill, preserving historical materials, providing low-cost building supplies, and creating local green jobs.