We say, "It starts with a playground," and Eureka, Calif. resident Ruth Robertson (pictured at right) is here to attest that a playground is indeed only the beginning. Ruth first got involved with KaBOOM! in 2008 when she found out that we were helping to build a playground in the park across her street. Here, in Ruth's words, is what happened next:
“When our councilmember got with KaBOOM!, he invited the community out to a meeting about it. I attended with my son, and that’s the first time in my life when I was actually included in something in my community.
I came out to the Design Day, joined the planning committee. I was like, 'What do you need?' I was there. On Build Day, I was the concrete team Build Captain—I volunteered for that because no one else would. That build changed my life—I got involved in my community.
I went on to volunteering... political campaigning in some of the roughest areas of Eureka. I knocked on doors in these really rough parts of town, but I saw all aspects of life, I saw poverty, I saw single parents not having a place to go to play... for them to then come to Hammond Park—the second most used park in Eureka—that’s like 15 blocks away, but they walk it!
Two years later I organized Spruce Up Hammond Park Day—man, the city resisted and resisted and then I finally we just did it, had a 100 volunteers show up, and we re-painted, planted trees, it was great... just great! To see people walk by, stop and volunteer. Other play opportunities often charge for recreation but this place was free and for all of us.
When you see kids coming from broken homes, they don’t have a choice… they can’t be instrumental in change but when you see that people care enough to say, ‘We wanna make a difference,’ when you give them a safe place to play, it speaks volumes. It tells them you can do whatever you want.”
Volunteers are hard at work on 'Spruce Up Hammond Park Day.'