Whirlpool Corporation, Neighbors Organizing Against Racism (NOAR) and The City of Benton Harbor returned to Broadway Park, where the Whirlpool Day of Impact 2023 took place a few months back, to honor June Woods, a former slave who came to Benton Harbor in 1870. The park was renamed June Woods Park in a dedication event on August 20th, where a memorial to Woods was erected.
June Woods was a slave who escaped slavery during the civil war and as an entrepreneur, became an important figure in the growth of Benton Harbor. He started a company that planted many of the trees in Benton Harbor and throughout Southwest Michigan. Woods would personally guarantee that the trees he sold would grow and as a man of his word, he would replace it with a free tree if it didn’t. His reputation grew so much that he became the largest tree farmer in this area, and nearly 40 years after he came to Benton Harbor, he was still dealing in trees.
Whirlpool Corp. partnered with NOAR for the corporation’s annual community Day of Impact when more than 120 volunteers from both organizations spent the day working to improve and upgrade the park. The work, including resurfacing basketball courts, creating walking trails, upgrading the play areas and repainting all the surfaces, continued throughout the summer. This community event celebrates the final phase of the project.
“We wanted to give everyone an opportunity to enjoy all the amazing upgrades and restoration Whirlpool provided at the newly re-named June Woods Park. This is a day of fun and celebration for the whole community,” said Trenton Bowens, NOAR founder and executive director. “Neighbors Organizing Against Racism has been fortunate to have such a great community partner in the Whirlpool Corporation in working alongside the City of Benton Harbor since we formed in 2020. That strengthened relationship has enabled a lot of great work.”
The Day of Impact work was funded by the Whirlpool Foundation.