First Security Bank adds instruments at Laurel Park to remember employee

By Stefanie Brazile

In December 2020, 501 LIFE shared an article about a bank being in harmony with its community. In the fall of 2020, First Security Bank Conway hosted a ceremony and dedicated phase one of the Jerry Cooper Sensory Play Trail at Laurel Park.

Bradley Claassen teaches his son, Reed, how to use the instruments.

Named for long-time employee Jerry Cooper, the musical sensory play trail will ultimately feature nine outdoor instruments that are wheelchair accessible and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. The project is sponsored by First Security Bank Conway employees, and additional funds were contributed by a long list of donors.

Cooper, who died in 2019, worked as a First Security bank courier for 20 years. He volunteered at Faulkner County Day School/Milestones and the Conway Human Development Center (CHDC). He served as past president of the CHDC Volunteer Council and Friends of Faulkner County Day School. He also served two terms on the Faulkner County Day School Board of Directors.

“Jerry had a big heart for handicapped children,” said Johnny Adams, president of First Security Bank Conway. “He was highly respected by his co-workers and will always be remembered for his kind heart and dedication to serve others.”

Olivia Claassen enjoys making music at the Jerry Cooper Sensory Play Trail at Laurel Park.

The three-phase project has a total price of $40,000. In the past two years, phase two was completed and three more instruments were added.

Bank employees continually work to raise money to purchase and install more of these colorful, durable instruments so that a total of nine will be ready for park guests to enjoy. “Hopefully we will be able to complete the final three instruments by the first of 2024. We’d love to do it this year,” said Stefanie Vann, marketing director for First Security Bank Conway. “Jerry Cooper was a huge part of First Security Bank,” Vann said. “He was so loved and respected by not only his co-workers but the community as well. Jerry’s passion for helping kids with disabilities and his love of music made this the perfect way to honor him.”

The fully accessible musical instruments are constructed of durable, easily cared-for materials, making them ideal for public outdoor spaces. “First Security Bank employees are proud to be able to provide such an amazing trail for the community to enjoy for years to come,” Vann said.

Musical instruments in outdoor community spaces engage people of all ages, cultures and abilities. The three installed in the fall of 2020 were Little Tikes Commercial-Concerto Vibes, Concerto Spin Cabasas and the Tuned Drums. Three instruments have been added in phase two. Created by Freenotes Harmony, the instruments are named The Griffin, Pagoda Bells and Vibrant Flowers.

During the October 2020 dedication of the Jerry Cooper Sensory Play Trail at Laurel Park, two $500 donations were made to non-profit agencies by First Security Bank Conway. Receiving for Milestones Services Inc. was Teresa Little (from left), Joanie Cooper, Johnny Adams, president of FSB Conway, and LaQuetta Garlington-Seals, volunteer program coordinator of the Conway Human Development Center.

Donations to the Sensory Play Trail can be made to the attention of Stefanie Vann, First Security Bank, 1390 Old Morrilton Hwy., Conway, AR 72032. After the project is complete, an on-site donor board will be updated to include all donors.