One day, One completed Playground

Jun 23, 2009

Just the night before and into the early morning hours, thunderstorms producing plenty of lightning covered most of the lower half of Michigan. Sure we expect this type of weather throughout the summertime, but this day was set for fulfilling a Thanksgiving wish that our Vice President, Dana Boals found in the newspaper.  A local Girl Scout troop submitted a heartfelt wish that Congress Elementary School would receive a new playground.

Amway through the One by One Campaign for Children, for the fourth time in West Michigan, partnered with the nonprofit KaBOOM!, and now Grand Rapids Public Schools, to turn that wish into a reality.

I arrive shortly after 8 am.  The sun is shining and as I approach there is a hum of energy.   As I go in to the scene, there is a rhythm.  It is a rhythm of hundreds of volunteers from Amway Manufacturing.  Add to the mix the Girl Scout Troop, people from Grand Rapids Public Schools, KaBOOM! and the surrounding neighborhood.  All focused on a goal to not only build, but complete a playground all before 2:30 in the afternoon.

I sign in, and chose a tag to put my name on.  Each name tag has a sticker.  There are ladybugs, guerillas, camels, dolphins, on and on and on.  Mine?  It is a puppy.  Cool!  Everyone is checking out each others name tags to see what they have.  As we’re greeting each other, we find out these stickers determine what team and what job we will be focusing on for the day.

The opening ceremonies are going great, the Girl Scouts are leading us through “warm up exercises” for fun and as I look around I see the Vice President of Amway Manufacturing Dave Buttrick joining in with the side bends.  He too has a name tag and will be put to work.

Next, through the sound system, they are calling out the jobs.  And all of us with a puppy sticker?  We hoot and cheer as we’re informed we’re going to mix cement by hand!  We are all summoned to Don, our Team Captain.  First order of business?  Shovel 12 inches down around the entire boarder.  Really?  But it’s hot out and the border is big so the task looks daunting! So we all literally dig in.  The music starts, the tempo and the pace, the entire rhythm of everyone working together for something that will bring the community joy for years to come, and give children a great place to play is making all this work fun.

As we’re digging, equipment is being put together by different teams, the build site is being prepped, children are painting artwork, picnic tables and benches are being crafted with care.  Each one is sweaty, dirty and smiling.

Unbelievably, sometime long before lunch (I’ve lost track of time), they are ready for us to begin mixing cement.  Wheelbarrows, shovels, hoes, water, bags and bags of cement each small but weighing a mighty 80 pounds each surrounds our team.  It’s a serious group who isn’t afraid to lift, wave at the dust, and get sloppy.  I take a moment to look around and everyone is wearing their sweat and dirt with pride.  Especially those who team up with a new found acquaintance to haul some 210 cubic yards of mulch on to the new playground.

Sometime during lunch, the sizable new playground is complete.  WOW!  And just as everyone is pitching in to clear the scraps, hang the artwork, and broom the walkways clear with a passion, there is a roll of thunder, a smile, a hug, a wiping of the brow, then rain.  Once again, I feel honored to work for Amway, where the legacy of 50 years of caring is solid, rock solid.

One day, One completed Playground_woodchips

One day, One completed Playground_working

One day, One completed Playground_slide

One day, One completed Playground


    • Guest says:

      Thanks so much for sharing.  It sounds llke you had barrels of fun.  Thanks to all those that came together to make a difference the lives of our children.

    • Jeffrey says:

      This is so cool.  It's great when things like this can be done without tax dollars or government intervention.  

    • Guest says:

      I am so thrilled with this playgournd. I am in that area quite often and know that the Congress playground gets used a lot. When I heard that this was getting totaly refurbished I was thrilled. It looks so nice and I know the children are happy with their new equipment.

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