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Showing a Lot of Heart for the Playground

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 3.05.04 PMAnd the rain came down. That could sum up the experiences of the volunteers who’ve been building the Heart of the City Playground in Dogwood Park this week. But it doesn’t.

Tuesday was the first building day and Husband and I were there. Decked out in work clothes and boots, caps, and rain jackets, we signed in at 7:45 a.m. We were welcomed, given a nametag, and immediately assigned to a crew. Our captain explained our first task. “We’re gonna’ cut some boards. So we need planks carried and one person on the circular saw.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 3.10.32 PM

In trying to avoid being hit by long recycled plastic planks that Husband and others carried, I found myself standing opposite a man named Joey who stood in front of the saw. I side-stepped to move away from the saw. “Don’t leave,” Joey said. “Just step a few feet that way,” he nodded his head to show me where to stand. “You can double check my measurements and count the boards. I’ll cut. You count.” So I counted and stacked boards. Twenty, 48”. Sixteen, 12”. Thirty-six, 33”. And the list went on.

Those cut boards were screwed together to form rectangular boxes. Ah, sandboxes, I thought. But they weren’t. This crew built five huge platform ladder steps that children will climb to get to the top of something. I don’t know what. It’ll be something fun to play on. These steps were built by a group of people who didn’t know each other and who rubbed shoulders as they worked. When I wasn’t stacking short boards or moving them from one place to another, I shoveled sawdust from the work areas and picked up wood scraps and trash. At the art tent, I wiped dust off of decorative cut shapes so they could be painted.

Neither Husband nor I worked in the mud. But my oldest Grand, age 10, and his dad did. “We had a great time in the mud and got wet to the bone,” Son-in-Law said.

Other volunteers summed up their experiences. “It’s tiring and very gratifying,” said Greg.

Serina said, “Working with all the wonderful people on this job reinforces why I love Cookeville.”

Casey said, “It’s been a blessing. It’s been humbling. It’s been life changing.”

Kimberly had one word, “Rewarding.”

Bill, a project leader from the playground company, Leathers & Associates, said, “People are here and smiling and it’s getting done.”

Ashley, one of the two co-chairmen who has dedicated more than a year to the playground, said, “It’s been challenging, but I know the good Lord above is with us every step of the way. If volunteers keep showing up in these less than favorable conditions with smiles on their faces, there’s no doubt we will get this playground built by Sunday evening!”

There’s a job for everyone. Just show up. If you want to be a part of something good, a part of something that brings people together, a part of something that makes life better.

Wear your work shoes. I’ll see you there.

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