Last week I joined 300 volunteers from Playworld Systems, Arizonans for Children (AFC), organizers from KaBOOM!, and residents of the Mesa community to build a cutting-edge playground that will benefit thousands of children in foster care struggling to maintain relationships with their biological families. Playworld Systems donated approximately $60,000 in equipment.
The playground at the Arizonans for Children’s (AFC) Mesa Visitation Center memorialized Wayne Anderson, president of Dave Bang Associates, a Mesa-based distributor of Playworld Systems’ products, who passed away last June. Members of Wayne Anderson’s family were among the volunteers in the construction of the playground.Wayne embodied Playworld Systems’ belief that the world needs play and dedicated his life’s work to improving communities and children’s play spaces.
Upon arrival at the site, jobs were assigned, groups were formed and the sweat equity process began. Workers rolled up their sleeves, knew what they had to do, and then began to make a lasting impact on the families who visit the AFC center inMesa,Arizona. I was on the mulch team whose job it was to move 250 cubic yards of mulch surfacing onto the playground. Together, we were an efficient assembly line. With experienced volunteers and guidance from KaBOOM!, a build that should’ve taken at least six hours to assemble took a mere four hours.
I found the passion and dedication of Kaye McCarthy, the director of AFC, moving. As an attorney working with children,in foster care McCarthy came to believe that the places, such as fast food restaurants, that biological parents and their children were meeting with each other were not appropriate So she founded AFC. The devotion of the volunteers allows the center to be run almost entirely on donated time. McCarthy has only three staff members who work for the non-profit organization. The build drew a variety of local volunteers from Mesa. A woman who works for American Express in Phoenix told me this was the second vacation day she’s taken to build a playground at an AFC center. Another male volunteer said he would do anything, at whatever time of the day, to help families rebuild.
This build was important to so many people. For those of us within the Playworld Systems family this build was impactful because Wayne Anderson will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Have you taken part in a playground community build in your area? What was your experience?