We first started going to INK a year or so ago. Maybe longer. A friend introduced it to us by way of a play date and Henry immediately fell in love. INK quickly became his favorite place, and I could understand why. For someone his age, it was the coolest place in the world. We ended up getting a membership because it was the perfect place to go on rainy or hot days where being outside just really wasn’t an option. Like I said, Henry loved it and I loved that he could just do his own thing and have fun.
And then September came. A small fire at INK’s kiln set off the sprinklers overnight. The fire was quelled, but the sprinklers kept running. And running. And running. By the time morning came, the facility had flooded. We were supposed to go that day, but for obvious reasons, INK had to be closed. They stayed closed until the beginning of this month. Throughout the entirety of their rebuilding, Henry asked over and over when they would reopen. He was so eager to go play again. When they announced they were close to reopening, Henry was beyond excited. He went from asking weekly to daily to go back. I promised him updates as they came. When I saw them put out a request for volunteers to help with the last of the projects, I offered to photograph the remaining construction and the ribbon cutting. Trust me when I say no one wants me to truly be involved in construction. Documenting through photographs? Well, that I can do.
INK is an absolute mainstay in Gainesville. The staff put their hearts and souls into getting it back together. Mandy Volpe, the director, genuinely puts everything into INK. She’s a mother herself and knows just how valuable a place like INK is to children and parents. She teared up at the ribbon cutting, and it was just another insight into how much INK means to her and really the community as a whole.
I speak for my family and so many others when I say that we truly appreciate everything that Mandy and the entire staff did to bring INK back. Especially with all this rain that we have been getting forever, I wholeheartedly recommend visiting Interactive Neighborhood for Kids in Gainesville. Your child(ren) will love it, and I promise that you’ll enjoy it there with them.