By Tracy Correa
FRESNO—Some 250 volunteers—including some 65 PG&E employees and family members—helped build a new playground in just six hours on Saturday (Dec. 17).
Volunteers joined together so that local children will be able to enjoy rock climbing walls, monkey bars, swings and more at the El Dorado Boys and Girls Club playground, located in an impoverished area of Fresno.
The bright, new playground is the result of a partnership between PG&E and Kaboom, a nonprofit that has built more than 2,000 playgrounds nationwide in the past 15 years. PG&E contributed $73,000 to build Fresno’s playground after building similar sites in Santa Rosa on Dec. 3 and in San Luis Obispo County on Dec. 10. The company gave a total $219,000 to build all three.
“Thank you for supporting these children. Thank you from me and on behalf of the Boys and Girls Club, but most of all from the kids,” said Rico Guerrero, assistant executive director for the Boys and Girls Club of Fresno County.
Working in partnership with PG&E, Kaboom and the El Dorado Park Boys and Girls Club, was Wesley United Methodist Church. Beyond donating space for the Boys and Girls Club to operate, the church operates non-denominational outreach programs to support local residents, many who are in need in this underserved neighborhood.
Attending Saturday’s build day was Fresno City Council member Larry Westerlund, Fresno Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO (and the Council member’s wife) Dora Westerlund and Fresno Regional Foundation CEO Dan DeSantis. Also present was Diane Carbray, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club, along with Pastor Vickie Healy of Wesley United Methodist Church.
Shawn Cooper, chief of staff for the office of the chairman at PG&E, helped dedicate the playground and presented the Boys and Girls Club with a ceremonial check for the project.
Lisa Klane, Kaboom’s on site project manager for the Fresno site, said the playground projects demonstrate PG&E’s commitment to the communities it serves.
“Our vision is for every child in America to have a safe place to play within walking distance of their home,” she said. “Today, only 1 in 5 children have a safe place to play nearby.”
Before the build, there was no available playground in walking distance for the area’s youth.
Studies show that access to play builds skills that foster happier, healthier children who perform better in school.
Fresno children helped design the playground at a special design day in October. Among the new playground’s features: Two sets of swings, two slides, a rock climbing wall, a performance stage with a shade structure and an under-the-sea-themed mural wall. Through the Boys and Girls Club alone, this play space will be used by more than 100 children every day.
Get more information on PG&E’s playground program.