Family Treehouse Project

Local activist is up a tree to help fund facility

January 28, 2001|By MARCY MISNER, Staff Writer

A local community activist has spent the past two nights in a tree house in El Centro as part of an effort to create a place for parents and children to play together in the Imperial Valley.

Rosie Nava-Bermudez doesn't plan to come down anytime soon. She went up into Blake Miles' treehouse on West 14th Street in El Centro on Friday morning and spent a rainy, cold night to raise funds for the Family Treehouse Project, described as an indoor place for parents and children to play and learn together.

Nava-Bermudez, Gary Hayes and a board of directors envision renovating a local building to include a science laboratory, a toddler play area, a computer lab and venues for other activities for parents and children.

Because no such building exists in the Valley, Golden Corral staffers have shared the restaurant every Tuesday night since October with staffers of the Treehouse Project to give parents a place to talk and a place for children to play, Nava-Bermudez said.


She spoke with a reporter from the tree house Saturday afternoon, where a sign emblazoned on the side of the tree house, and promotion from Q96 radio station in Brawley, prompted several motorists to honk as they drove by.

With thick gloves on her hands, Nava-Bermudez waved back as she explained that she and the others involved in the project hope to have the Treehouse Project building complete by summer, but a lack of funding is slowing their progress.

"We really need something here … because parents today have a real tough time being a parent," she said.

More than 100 parents interviewed said they most wish there were things for their children to do in the Valley, outside school and church.

"It's supposed to encourage parent/child interaction," she said of the Treehouse Project.

Nava-Bermudez pledged to stay in Miles' tree house no less than 72 hours, but may stay longer to reach their $50,000 goal. About $2,000 has come in through the fund- raising, she said.

"She's really been serious about not coming down," Hayes explained.

Community fund-raising events are a good way to get the community involved with the project, and input is always welcome, Hayes and Nava-Bermudez said.

"Blake Miles, the owner of the tree house, didn't even know me when I called him … He's unconditionally given support to me. He doesn't even know me," she said.

Miles is the district executive for Boy Scouts' Desert Trails District.

Savannah Cruz, 8, of El Centro spent an hour or so in the tree house with her aunt, Nava-Bermudez on Saturday. Savannah has challenged all of the teachers at Hedrick Elementary School, where she is a second-grader, to match the $5 she has pledged.

Her sister, Gabriella, 3, challenged the fathers watching the Super Bowl today to match her $5 pledge.

To donate, or for more information, call Nava-Bermudez this weekend at 791-2693 or 791-2694, or at 355-2207.

On the web:

to see the proposed indoor recreation area, see the tree house photo at:

Staff Writer Marcy Misner can be reached at 337-3441.

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