COMMON GROUND: Belhaven’s playground built in a dayPublished 6:30pm Saturday, October 26, 2013
BELHAVEN — Saturday was national Make a Difference Day and in Belhaven roughly 200 people, some residents, some traveling from across the state, made a noticeable difference by building a playground in one day.
A partnership between KaBOOM! playground builders, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and Team Coalition, a consortium of area churches and civic groups, led the building of the playground. But the festive occasion, which included a volunteer DJ and meals donated by church groups and area restaurants, marked a coming together of the Belhaven community.
“It’s bringing the whole community together. Our city seems to be kind of divided, but I see black, white, Hispanic people working together,” said Douglas Cogdell. “That’s my main goal: to get different cultures together. We’ve got to find something we’ve all got in common. I’m proud to be here today.”
Cogdell, pastor of White Plain Church Ministry and a member of Team Coalition, brought along 20 volunteers from his church for the build day.
Malveata Collins, area director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Beaufort County, shared that pride in the community working together to create a play space so accessible to the Belhaven Boys & Girls Clubs’ charges.
“It shows that people care about their lives and their healthiness,” Collins said. “I’m glad to be here — it’s awesome. It’s great to see the community coming together for the kids.”
Boys & Girls Club kids pitched in by painting wooden blocks to be pieced together into murals, while Southside High School Key Club members painted squares on tabletop checkerboards, on a ball field adjacent to the playground.
Led by captains easily identified by fanciful hats provided by KaBOOM!, teams were randomly populated with volunteers. Employees with T.A. Loving Construction provided many of the captains as part of a volunteer service project and, as luck would have it, many teams landed exactly who they needed: one group building a shade structure had a combined 250 years of construction experience; another painting chalkboards had two artists, according to Katrina Hill, KaBOOM!’s project manager.
Hill said she wasn’t at all surprised at the turnout, largely because of the work done by local organizers.
“Everywhere I go, everybody knows about this project because they did such a good job getting the word out,” Hill said.
J. Nelson-Weaver, who many know as the local liaison with the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust’s Healthy Places NC initiative, came from Winston-Salem, and enlisted the help of her family, along with two Trust coworkers and their families.
“We’re really believing in these playgrounds,” she said, adding it was the sixth she’d participated in.
For many, the idea of building a playground in one day seemed an impossible task, but by the mid-afternoon ribbon cutting that signaled the project’s completion, the task had been realized.
“It’s hard to imagine, but now that you see how it all comes together, the community working together,” said Greg Sattherwaite, with the Belhaven Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a new Belhaven.”
Next on KaBOOM!’s list is a playground destined for Washington’s Oak Crest housing complex slated for a December build day.