In 2011, a Marathon Petroleum employee named Nikki Bonomo relocated from the Detroit refinery to Findlay. Like many new families, she and her husband began the search for activities for their children and found themselves traveling to other communities to find what they were looking for. After the trip back from one such visit to a children’s museum in Cleveland, the Bonomos decided to see if they could launch a similar concept in Findlay. Ultimately, a nonprofit organization was formed, space was located at the local mall and the necessary funds were raised to open the Children’s Museum of Findlay in the summer of 2014.
Jump forward to 2017. The Bonomos have moved away, but what began as a 7,000-square-foot museum with 13 exhibits has grown to a 13,000-square-foot museum with 20 exhibits. MPC, Marathon Pipe Line (MPL) and individual employees and their spouses have all jumped in to help. Three of the 14 members of the Board of Directors are also MPC employees.
The MPC exhibit includes a backdrop of forest scenery and a tree house built by Findlay High School’s Millstream Construction Skills class. MPC provided the lumber and other supplies, and the students donated their time and construction skills. Once the tree house was installed, a local Eagle Scout added a picnic table, stocked tent and mock fire pit.
The MPL ‘Safe Digging’ exhibit focuses on the importance of calling 811. The two-level exhibit allows children to play at floor level and depicts utility lines located underground, demonstrating what household items are powered by underground utilities. When pushed, colored buttons illuminate each utility, and the sound of the item powered by that utility plays. The second level of the exhibit includes a play yard with a ‘swimming pool’ where kids can safely cannon ball into 2,000 foam blocks.
Tracie McCall, Petrochemical Marketing manager, and her husband also stepped forward to sponsor an exhibit where children play with life-size tinker toys. Senior Organizational Development Consultant Jen Traxler and her husband donated an African xylophone known as an amadinda for a performance area. In November, 30 MPL employees from Integrity, Damage Prevention & Corrosion, and later, several employees from Asphalt & Petrochemical Marketing, Wholesale Marketing and T&L organizations, provided more than 140 hours to finish exhibits and the museum itself in anticipation of the Museum’s January 2017 expansion opening.
“We are so proud to have this museum in our community,” says Karen Byers, MPL Damage Prevention supervisor, who serves as president on the Museum’s Board. “It really fulfills the original vision of a safe place for children to play with hands-on exhibits designed to help them be creative and stretch their imaginations.”