Updated: Feb 20
On May 19, 2018, I volunteered with the Alexandra Redevelopment and Housing Authority and Kaboom! to help build a multi-sport playground and community garden at the Ruby Tucker family center in Old Towne Alexandria, Va. Kaboom! is a national 501(C)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure that every kid, regardless of race, zip code, or family income, has access to a safe place to play. They achieve their vision of equity by working with communities to build “incredible, kid-designed playspaces.”
I volunteered to work in the community garden because I love to plant fresh vegetables in my backyard. Community gardens are a great asset because they are fun, serve as community gathering spaces, and bring affordable, local fruits and vegetables to residents. I fondly remember this day because it rained that entire week, including the build day. The ground was soaking wet; there was flooding and A LOT of mud.
And two other ladies paired up with the construction crew to build and transport the plant beds. And then came the hard part: we had to shovel a massive pile of fertilizer manure by hand and transfer it to the planting area, which was flooded up to my knees in some areas. We got so dirty! It was hard work, but we had a delicious lunch and plenty of tasty snacks. Best of all, it was great to work with folks passionate about volunteering and nature, like me. There was also a grand dedication ceremony at the end.
That day also made me smile because it was Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding! I spent the early morning before the dig, eating tea and crumpets with my daughter and watching the festivities across the pond.
I revisited the community center a few months after the build and was amazed at how it looked. Here are a few highlights of the before and after:
If you are interested in bringing people together and encouraging play in your community, you can learn more about Kaboom! at https://kaboom.org/grants
Kaboom has four grant opportunities
Build it with Kaboom! Community-built playgrounds generate a tangible, achievable win for your community
Creative Play grants bring the Imagination Playground™, an innovative design in play equipment that encourages creativity, communication, and collaboration in play to your community.
Multi-sport Courts:Receive a new, custom-designed sports court with hand-crafted amenities
Adventure Courts: receive a new, custom-designed adventure course playspace and hand-crafted amenities