Family and friends of slain East Palo Alto police officer Rich May, including his stepfather Frank Merrill of Atherton, plan to build the first regulation playing field in East Palo Alto through the Rich May Foundation, Merrill announced Dec. 22 in a news release.
In addition to his stepfather, Rich May's mother and sisters also live in Atherton.
On Nov. 25, the jury in the Richard May murder trial found the defendant, Alberto Alvarez, guilty of first degree murder, and on Dec. 22, the jury recommended the death sentence for the 2006 killing.
A social psychologist testified during the trial that a factor contributing to this tragedy was that the defendant lived in a community that lacked athletic opportunities.
"The family hopes that this field will be the beginning of changing that," Merrill said.
The playing field, serving youth in East Palo Alto and Belle Haven, will be built on about two acres of land at 1425 Bay Road that was donated by the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the Ravenswood City School District, he said.
The plan is for a synthetic turf field, plus a picnic area, bathrooms, storage, an office and parking areas, he said. The field will be lighted for night use and will be suitable for soccer, rugby, football, running, and field hockey.
Over the past three years, the foundation has started a rugby program for East Palo Alto youth, established a scholarship program to fund soccer and rugby camps, and funded field trips and mentoring programs in the community, Merrill said.
"Rich was very popular and well liked by the East Palo Alto community, where his focus was helping and becoming involved with the troubled youth," Merrill stated in the news release. "Rich once said: 'Find one young person who needs help. Help that person become a good and responsible adult. And, do it with a smile.'"
To learn more about the foundation or to make a donation go to richmayfoundation.org.