It was a true team effort as volunteers and staff from JetBlue, KaBOOM! and Forestdale all teamed up to build a playground on the Forestdale campus.
Hundreds of volunteers from all three groups worked throughout the day on Wednesday, September 23, putting together the different components of the playground, which was designed by the youngsters at Forestdale – the only Queens-based foster care agency.
“To think that 2,000 kids really supported by Forestdale designed the playground and then to see it come to life this afternoon deserves a big round of applause from one of your corporate citizens to the community citizen,” said Dave Barger, CEO of JetBlue Airways, during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the playground. “Thank you for what you do day in and day out.”
Throughout the day, volunteers moved about 200 cubic yards of woodchips and installed a swing set, slide, monkey bars and other play equipment for the youngsters at Forestdale to enjoy.
“You have been an absolute trooper of a team to work alongside today,” said Ariel Fortune, the project manager for KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance for every child in America. “You have done an incredible amount of work.”
Currently, Forestdale’s foster care and adoption programs serve almost 500 children in 275 foster homes. Many of those children, as well as youngsters involved in other programs at Forestdale, will be able to take advantage of the new playground, according to Rosemarie Ewing-James, Assistant Executive Director for Foster Care at Forestdale Inc.
“On behalf of the children and families and staff of Forestdale we want to thank KaBOOM! and Jet Blue for this wonderful playground we have behind us,” Ewing-James said. “I know that our children and our families and our community are going to have the opportunity to interact in a very challenging and safe environment.”
The playground at Forestdale is only the latest cooperation between JetBlue and KaBOOM!
“In partnering with KaBOOM!, this is our seventh program, and it looks pretty special to say the least, and it’s right down the block from our support center where we have so many of our crewmembers working,” Barger said.
In addition, the volunteers, staff and children at the ceremony received a visit from a special guest, Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels, who talked about his own experiences in foster care and broke out into an impromptu rap during the ceremony. McDaniels spent almost an hour with the staff and volunteers doing manual work at the playground while posing for pictures and talking with youngsters.
“They’re not gonna be great, they’re already great,” said McDaniel, who stressed that the children just needed to be given the resources in order to help them succeed.