‘It’s fun to be at the YMCA’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 7, 2006

Volunteers team up to build new playground

By Cassandra Mickens

The Selma Times-Journal

Email newsletter signup

Building a community playground in a mere six hours seems like an impossible feat.

The YMCA of Selma-Dallas County proved such a task could be accomplished, assembling a 3,800 square foot playground in just five hours with the help of more than 200 volunteers Friday.

Volunteers gathered at the new YMCA facility off Medical Center Parkway at 9 a.m.

Friday. Divided into 12 teams, volunteers were assigned to assemble playground equipment, transfer approximately 275 cubic yards of mulch, landscape, and plant the playground’s butterfly garden.

A collaborative project involving BellSouth, the Alabama Power Foundation, Yeargan Construction and KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization dedicated to creating safe play spaces for children, the playground build drew volunteers from near and far.

Approximately 200 volunteers were BellSouth employees from throughout the Southeast.

“All I can say is I’ve never seen so many people to build a playground in one place,” said YMCA Board Member John Calame. “This is just a tremendous project for the YMCA, Selma and our community.”

“I think this project is absolutely fabulous,” said Selma native Becky Dunn of BellSouth. “It’s an appropriate jewel in the crown of this wonderful facility.”

Dunn, the niece of YMCA namesake Paul Grist, wants to continue her uncle’s legacy and says the Y has an excellent opportunity to become “the community center to bring people together.”

Before getting their hands dirty, volunteers shouted to the top of their lungs, “If we build it, they will come,” referring to Selma and Dallas County youth who will inherit the playground. Volunteers also stretched their muscles dancing and clapping to the Village People hit “YMCA.”

A few short hours later, the playground sparkled in the afternoon sun and schoolchildren marveled at the site. The public is not allowed to utilize the playground until Monday, said YMCA representative Angie Miller.

“We just built a playground, benches, a butterfly garden and landscaped in five hours,” said project leader Jane Duket of KaBOOM. “Imagine what you may be able to do tomorrow.”

“This morning I would have never imagined we would have it done in the time we did it,” said Calame.

The day concluded with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the playground. Miller awarded plaques to Dunn, Billy Atchison of Alabama Power and Chuck Yeargan of Yeargan Construction for their support. Miller made an additional presentation to Dunn, informing her the butterfly garden would be named in her honor.

“This means more to me than you’ll ever know,” Dunn said.

Before parting ways, all volunteers were asked to give one other a pat on the back, each acknowledging a job well done.