Cash grant, volunteer labor build playground
Jorge Dabdoub is a happy camper on the new playground he helped to design.
“It’s cool,” said the 9-year-old Tucson boy. “It was boring before, only monkey bars and swings.”
Jorge and other children in the after-school program at the Mulcahy/City YMCA, 5085 S. Nogales Highway, helped design the center’s new playground, built in six hours Thursday.
Jorge’s dream playground included a climbing wall and tether ball, new additions to brightly-colored outdoor center.
Jorge’s mom, Jessica Santamaria, 29, said the playground is a great addition to the center.
“All the parents want to play on it,” she said. “It was so cool that they included the kids in designing it.”
The playground was built in a day with $47,000 in donations from the The Home Depot, $10,000 from the YMCA and the elbow grease of about 200 volunteers from both organizations and the Arizona National Guard.
The project was part of KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child, according to organizers. The Home Depot committed $25 million to KaBOOM! to create and refurbish 1,000 play spaces in 1,000 days in the nation.
Amanda Castañeda, administrative director at the YMCA of Metropolitan Tucson, said the center was in dire need of an extreme makeover. “It was in terrible shape,” she said. “It was not fun.”
The YMCA applied for a KaBOOM! grant, and the kids got busy designing.
“The kids came together with KaBOOM and Home Depot, and they gave them paper and crayons and colored pencils and said, ‘Tell us what you want,’ ” Castañeda said.
Rich Taylor, human resources manager for The Home Depot in the Tucson area, said 150 employees from Tucson, Thatcher, Sierra Vista, Casa Grande and Nogales spent the day, with no pay, building the playground.
“I have absolutely no trouble getting volunteers,” he said. “There’s nothing like it when you get the project done and see the look on the kids’ faces.”
Home Depot employee Dawne Fruechtenicht, 40, painted a checkerboard on a table as the project wrapped up. “It makes you feel like a little kid again,” she said. “It’s good for kids and it’s great to help out.”