Once your big day is over, you've got lots to celebrate. But don't assume your work is done! Be sure to thank your volunteers.
- Recognize volunteers for their hard work during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
- Coordinate creative thank-yous with your co-chair(s), children's activities captain and PR captain.
Ways to say thank you
To make a lasting impression, think outside the notecard! Use your creativity and playfulness to show volunteers how much they've meant to your project.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, celebrate with everybody's favorite food and beverages. Tell everyone that it's okay to play with their food.
Give out small trophies or tokens to people who truly went above and beyond - the person who hauled the most mulch, recruited the most volunteers, sweated the most, stressed the most. Is your town sports-crazed? Cue the Olympic theme song and give gold medals to volunteer winners and major sponsors. Have a local trophy company donate them - or better yet, have children make them!
Try to get a company to do a skywriting message for the whole town to see. This one might be difficult to find, but think how charged your volunteers will be when "Thank You Playspace Builders!" appears in the sky.
Place a full page ad in the local paper during the week following the build. Ask if they'll donate the space or reduce the fee.
Simply go up to individuals, pat them on the back, shake their hands, give them a hug and say "Thank You!"
Tip: Even after you cut the ribbon at the end of the day, the concrete holding the playground posts in the ground still needs to set for 72 hours. Invite volunteers back for a playground opening day event so they can see the results of their hard work and enjoy the kids playing.
"Today has been a very emotional day for me, and just seeing the kids has been awesome. Today kind of puts it all together, puts it in perspective. Not only are we doing a great thing for kids and their healthy development, but this is just an awesome experience to work with all the volunteers."
-Cindy Willis, House Springs, Mo.
Evaluating the experience
So how'd it go? What worked? What didn't? Discuss with your team to learn lessons for next time!
"Friends of the Playspace" group
Your co-chair(s) and fellow team captains may be interested in forming an ongoing group to support the maintenance and programming of your new playspace. You can maintain relationships with partner organizations, giving them new opportunities to be involved. Recruit volunteers and participants for an annual "Playspace Birthday Party," outdoor summer festival or cultural activities. Whatever future your playspace holds, the skills, interests, and commitment of local residents will certainly be a part of it!
"Bringing people together, that's what this project was about. Getting them to participate, giving them a role to play, making them feel their responsibility to our community."
- Mark Mitchell, recruitment team captain, Boston playground build
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