Pueblo Play: It Took a Village

A few months ago I wrote about KaBOOM! and San Jose Park Foundation’s plans to work together to construct a playground in a parking lot on Payne Avenue in west San Jose. I’ll detail some basic facts about the endeavor, but words do not adequately describe the satisfaction gained from building a safe place for children to jump, climb, swing, run and just enjoy playing outdoors.

Ken Pyle is one of the most selfless, dedicated people I have met during my tenure at the Parks Foundation. I had no idea where his late-October phone call would lead. But just last month, Ken and I took down the bright orange snow fencing that was wrapped around the completed playground so it could open. As we carefully pulled down the plastic barrier, we could see a father and two sons walking by. The boys were looking at the playground with wide eyes and bright smiles.

When we had pulled off the last piece of fencing, the boys charged through the gate and climbed on the colorful new playground equipment. Within 15 minutes there were two more families enjoying this new play place. I was exhausted and elated at the same time.

Everything began with Ken, who heard about KaBOOM! and made contact with its staff. He then sought a place to put the playground, and he knew this neighborhood needed. Ken wound up talking to some parents at Pueblo de Dios Lutheran Church. As parents of children in the area, they knew that a playground was a high priority. Maria Veliz not only embraced the idea, she became an active leader in making it happen, working with Ken and KaBOOM! and leading the small, dedicated group of volunteer parents. And so our “village” grew.

KaBOOM! made the big connection by securing the playground's primary funder and overall sponsor, the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks paid for the playground equipment and covered KaBOOM!’s operating and administrative costs. The Sharks went the extra mile through the San Jose Sharks Foundation.

They recruited more than 100 volunteers, including the highly-energized Sharks Foundation staff, as well as wives and girlfriends of Sharks players. Building a playground in one day is sweaty, grunt work. But we got it done thanks to the generous, hard-working volunteers.

San Jose Parks Foundation signed on as the nonprofit sponsor for the activity, committing to maintenance, as well as raising about $15,000 to cover permits and pre-construction costs. The Community Bank of the Bay and Councilmember Pete Constant were among contributors.

The final key player was Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Saratoga, which owns the land and agreed to provide the space for Pueblo Play Playground, which sits on private property. However, the park will be open to the public so all children can play. Their lives will be a little bit better thanks to the work of this "village.”

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