Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: New Orleans Outreach

This past month, I believe the word that I said the most was KaBOOM!

I represented New Orleans Outreach on the planning committee for the McDonogh City Park Academy playground build.  I had never actually attended a KaBOOM! playground build prior to MCPA’s build day.  I had heard a lot about these builds: In only 6 hours, a playground will be built from scratch with the help of 200-300 volunteers.  A simple formula, right?

Well this month taught me that there was so much more that went into this formula to make the children of MCPA’s dream of having a playground come true.

My main contribution to this project was finding volunteers for the build day, November 13th.  The idea of bringing together 200-300 volunteers from all over the city seemed challenging.  However, when people and groups heard about the project, they eagerly signed on to help (even before I told them about the free food, DJ, and free t-shirt that they would get for helping).  I was even able to enlist the help of my younger brother as a Build Captain (which meant he was in charge of leading a team the day of the build with a piece of the playground construction, had to attend a training, and show up to the build at 6:30 am!) and my dad volunteered to work the nursing table, since he is a certified EMR.  I was so excited to have the support of so many people to make this playground a reality.

At one point, the KaBOOM! committee actually thought we would have too many volunteers so I had to stop recruiting build-day volunteers.  I moved on to helping other committee members’ projects.  The team talked about making the build “green.”  Since one of my majors in college was Environmental Studies, I was happy to help the group find agencies that could be of assistance to “greening” the build.  I also found a class from Tulane that would be willing to assist with childcare and other non-build related activities that would be necessary to have the day of the build for the event to run smoothly.  A cornerstone of the build day was to have a DJ.  Finding an affordable, talented DJ proved to be harder than the committee thought.  I was happy to be able to find this piece of the puzzle!

As the week of the playground build approached, the stress of having a successful build increased.  I do not think I ever realized how much prep work went to making a volunteer event successful, and even if I did, I have a much great appreciation now for all the work that goes into having a successful volunteer event.  In the end, not every thing went smoothly.  The two days prior to the build, the “heavy duty” playground prep work took place, and due to a shortage of volunteers, I quickly became versed in how to use a power saw, which ended up being fun – quite empowering!  And although the playground took seven and a half hours, instead of six to officially “KaBOOM!,” in the end it was KaBOOMed! and the children were so excited to have a place to play!

Through helping plan this large scale service event, I have come up with a few tips that will hopefully help others that work on these types of projects:

Betsy’s guide to KaBOOMing! a large scale project:

  1. working together with respect for everyone’s opinions.
  2. congratulating those that have done something great.
  3. helping those out that need assistance.
  4. get the necessary amount of sleep each night.
  5. when a task to get the project done stresses you out, leave this stress at work, have a good night’s sleep, and come back ready to tackle the task refreshed the next day
  6. do not panic, there is a good chance that not everything will go smoothly.
  7. don’t expect everything to always KaBOOM!, sometimes it will KaBLAM!
  8. celebrating yours and other’s small accomplishments along the way to your greater goal.
  9. always keep the overall goal in mind.

– Elizabeth “Betsy” Lopez, AmeriCorps VISTA Visit New Orleans Outreach, to learn more about the Outreach program and volunteer opportunities in your area.


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About Tulane VISTA

Notes from the field from the AmeriCorps VISTA team at Tulane University.

One comment on “Field Report: New Orleans Outreach

  1. Jane
    December 8, 2010

    “don’t expect everything to always KaBOOM!, sometimes it will KaBLAM!”…hahaha. awesome.

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This entry was posted on December 7, 2010 by in New Orleans Outreach and tagged , , , , .

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