Thursday, September 18, 2008

KaBoom! Brings New Playground to HeartShare in Howard Beach

WaMu is Funding Partner for Project

By Patricia Adams

Carol Verdi, Vice President of Educational Services for HeartShare Human Services says she remembers the first time she got a call from KaBOOM! They were looking for non- profit organizations to build playgrounds for when Verdi informed the caller that they had to look no further.

Since then KaBOOM! has built three playgrounds for HeartShare, one in Bensonhurst at the St. Finbar Complex, another in Richmond Hill at the HeartShare Pre-School and finally, last Saturday at the Howard Beach site which houses a pre-school program for children with special needs and a Universal Pre-K.

For the Howard Beach site, HeartShare put in an application and was partnered with Washington Mutual as their funding partner. Both HeartShare and WaMu each brought more than 100 volunteers. The day kicked off around 9AM and went until 2:30 when the playground was completed. Additionally there was a prep day on the Thursday before the build.

According to Verdi, HeartShare has been “very blessed to get involved with KaBOOM!” “Not only did they organize and help with the playground, they also serve to oversee the fostering of a strong relationship between the community, its needs and local business,” Verdi said. “There are so many people we have to thank. ConEd sent out crews of men with heavy equipment to dig the holes and prepare the ground for the playground installation. Merchants from the boulevard donated food and water. It was just unbelievable.”

Among those who supplied food and beverages for the day were Ragtime Gourmet, Sapienza, Carosello, Beach Bagels, Waldbaums, Councilman Joe Addabbo and Pepsi. Angelo Gurino, owner of Ragtime, who supplied breakfast for the hundreds of volunteers, said, “Anytime we have the opportunity to do something for the kids of this community, we try to get it done.”

The day started for the volunteers at around 9 AM with breakfast being supplied by said Gurino. For the remainder of the morning and well into the afternoon, play structures were assembled and put into place, cement was poured, engineered wood fiber was put in around the play equipment for children’s safety, and planter benches were constructed. A DJ was on hand throughout the day to provide entertainment.

The new playground will provide more than 90 children daily with a safe place to play. The play space is one of more than two hundred KaBOOM! will lead across the country this year in an effort to provide a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

HeartShare Human Services of New York is celebrating its 94th year, as a nonprofit organization that assists more than 17,000 New Yorkers. Its wide spectrum of services provides counseling, after-school programs and assistance with foster care and adoption to children and families, supports people affected by HIV/AIDS, and administers energy assistance programs. It also helps individuals with developmental disabilities through numerous programs including childhood services, adult day programs, residential services, case management, recreation programs, family support services, and health services. KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit organization that has the vision that every child in

America should have a playground within walking distance of their homes. Over the past ten years, innovators at KaBOOM! have employed a community-build model that brings together the interests of the community and local business. Together these successful community partnerships have been responsible for the building of over 1,000 new playgrounds, skate parks, sports fields and ice rinks across North America.

“KaBOOM! has a wonderful mission which puts children and their needs before everything else. They have really made dreams come true for us. I can’t say enough good things about them,” said Verdi. “I think the biggest thing for us is that it not only offers the ability for the children to develop their growth motor skills and it also gives them opportunities for socialization and language development. The most important thing is to have fun.”

For those communities who wish to build a new playground on their own, KaBOOM! has made a wide variety of resources available. The organization has a strong online community, offers training on a regional and national basis and offers both grants and publications to potential playground builders.

If you would like more information on HeartShare Human Services or KaBOOM! You can visit their websites at Or

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