Kristen McKercher, left, and Kathryn Busch. Photography by Shelby Tauber.
A group of neighborhood women got together 40 years ago to fix up Lakewood Park. This year, the Lakewood Service League (LSL) will unveil a new playground there.
Surging demand after the pandemic magnified the need for new equipment. But it’s harder to design a playground than it may seem, says Kathryn Busch, the outgoing league president.
“Playground design is way more advanced and there’s way more to it than I ever realized. So that was fascinating, to learn why you do certain things and how that helps build different types of skills — either motor skills or confidence, social skills, all the negotiating that goes on on a playground and how we can help facilitate that,” says Busch, who’s lived in Lakewood since 2005.
After six years living in the neighborhood, she still didn’t feel connected. In the past, she’d been involved with the Junior League of Dallas, and missed the organized aspect of it. She saw a sign advertising the LSL, and when she showed up to a new member meeting, saw some familiar faces.
One part of the LSL she appreciated was that members are asked to choose several organizations to serve. It introduced her to places such as Jubilee Park, Our Friends Place, Child Care Group and more she wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Some volunteer activities Busch has participated in include helping out at Juliette Fowler Communities and its Ebby House program, and facilitating the Halloween carnival at Jubilee Park.
The league has also provided her an opportunity to make friends with East Dallas women.
“I think it’s a different kind of friendship, maybe a stronger friendship even, when you meet through volunteering and serving others,” she says. “So you at least know you have that common goal in mind.”
The LSL has about 60 active members, representing a range of ages and life stages.
“I’ve just found everybody obviously has a servant’s heart but also some fascinating story of travel or family or interesting talents that helps keep us moving forward,” Busch says.
Kristen McKercher, right, became president of Lakewood Service League this year, replacing Kathryn Busch, left. Photography by Shelby Tauber.
Volunteers focus support on about 15 organizations each year. Since 2021, they’ve provided 200 pumpkins for the Jubilee Park Halloween Festival; filled 47 cub packs for Lipscomb Elementary students and 85 bags of food for peace pantries at local Dallas ISD schools; wrapped 700 e-readers and toys at Christmas and stuffed hundreds of Easter eggs for Child Care Group, and much more.
Kristen McKercher, an 11-year Lakewood resident, joined the LSL in 2017 and took the lead as president in June. She used to work in Irving and volunteered there, so after she moved to Lakewood and had kids, she began looking for opportunities closer to home.
McKercher learned about the LSL through Facebook, and she liked the idea of focusing on East Dallas.
The first major responsibility she’ll take on as president will be overseeing the unveiling for the new playground at Lakewood Park. As of press time, the LSL is shooting for a date in September, but it depends on when equipment is delivered and installed.
Her goal for the anniversary year, she says, is to answer the question, “How can we give back even more to our community and celebrate the 40 years and members and everything we’ve done.”
The LSL hasn’t yet finalized any major projects for the year, but in general, it will continue to support community agencies, she says.
“Through volunteer organizations like this, I think it helps make your community better,” Busch says. “It gives us a perspective on what’s going on in our community, although it may not be our direct ZIP code, and how that impacts us – and how we have an impact on others.”
The Lakewood Service League is accepting new members through July 31.