Friends for peace

PHOENIX – An Arizona volunteer park named after a veteran has been ranked as one of the top 100 volunteer parks in the country, a nonprofit group said on Monday.

“Our community deserves more than just the best of the best.

We deserve a park that we can all enjoy and that is safe and welcoming for all, ” said Kathy Hughes, president and founder of the Phoenix Volunteer Park Association.

The association, which operates the Phoenix Veterans Memorial Park, said the park ranks in the 90s for safety and community amenities.

Hughes said the Park Board voted to rename the Arlington Volunteer Park after Arlington resident and Vietnam veteran, David Ruppert.

Ruppert, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, died in 2006 after being shot by a former Army helicopter pilot in the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon.

Hughes described Ruppetts family as “an amazing, generous, caring family.”

The Arlington Volunteer Community Center and the Park Service have both donated $5,000 to the park.

Huges said she and Ruppets son, Andrew, were so inspired by Ruppt’s story that they created the Arlington Community Center in 2009.

Hugus said the center has a full-time volunteer coordinator who is committed to serving the community.

Hugs said she was honored to be a volunteer at Arlington, which she described as “a great place to be.”

“I love Arlington, and I want to make it a place where people want to come and spend a great amount of time,” Hughes said.