It Was “Wow!”

ImageThere’s no other word to describe the playground build yesterday but to say, “Wow!.” We tallied over 300 volunteers from as far as England came to help build a playground and a dozen other playground structures for the students of Oakland’s Community School for Creative Education.

Everybody, and I mean everybody pitched in to build, organize and clean.  It was touching to see the unselfish commitment of all the volunteers as each share tools and expertise.

I was impressed by Kristin Karcsh and her KaBoom! team.  They had organization and logistics down to a science.  I don’t know how often I bugged Kristin and Emily during the day to get guidance and additional tools.

I’m also very proud of my Jetblue colleagues.  Crew members from different cities and departments and even Jetblue pilot, Captain Russ showed up to get their hands dirty.  All the General Managers from all the Bay Area cities, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento came early and stayed late to finish their projects.  It was  specially fun to watch SFO’s GM, Ken Johnson get covered in concrete dust as they mixed it for some of the play structure’s foundation.   Knowing SJC GM, Matt Ketcher’s affinity for power tools, he was in heaven building a huge stage with OAK’s GM, Rhonda Blair.  SMF GM, Rudy Lucero would not be outdone as he helped build parts of the playground structure with his team.

In my experience, great events bring in great people.  It was a pleasure to help KPFA DJ, Jose Ruiz set up his gear at 7am.  He got there early and full of jokes.  It was fun.  He and DJ Scott Manley played throughout the day.  Trust me; music made the task lighter and time fly faster.  Their music selection was worldly, fun and upbeat.

I counted over five professional photographers who also stayed the whole day.  One of them was Rafael Ramirez, who shoots professionally for San Francisco’s Public Works.  He said that he loves being in volunteer events because they yield great moments to photograph.  I agree.  I wished I had more time with my camera too.  Michael from Alameda’s Photography Association also deserves notice.  The guy carried three pro camera’s around his neck and kept shooting.  He’s a very friendly guy too.

My good friend, Joi Glass from High Street’s 24-hour fitness did not disappoint.  She had the volunteers’ adrenaline going before the building started.  She did admit that the large crowd intimidated her at first but as a true pro, she didn’t miss a beat.  Thanks, Joi!

As the day went on, I couldn’t help but to take a step back and observe the goodness in humanity.  People from the community, school, all walks of life and great distances came to help each other and create a good environment for kids.  Everybody was dirty, sweaty yet smiling and laughing knowing that their contribution, no matter how big or small, will leave an indelible mark in the future of the school and its students.

This was summarized by CSCE’s principal, Becky Westbrook in her speech during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. With her voice cracking, her eyes swelling with tears she thanked everyone from the bottom of her heart and ended that “it’s all for the kids.”

A perfect ending for a perfect day.  Thanks everyone!


She’s gonna pump you up!

Joi Glass, trainer at 24-Hour Fitness High Street in Oakland, CA, will lead us in the warm-up after the opening ceremonies this Saturday, the 18th.  She’s an Oakland native who attended Oakland High and Skyline High School. I can tell that she was excited to give back to the community during our phone conversation.

“I  was more than honored. This community has done so much for me and any chance that I have to give back I am more than pleased to take. I became a trainer because it was one of the professions that allowed me to put both my interest together which are fitness and my love for helping people. My goal is  to teach health and fitness in a way that not only gets people in shape, but that also allows them to use it as an outlet for whatever it is they are going through. I want to help people discover the positive affects that it can have mentally and emotionally.” – Joi Glass

I was impressed with her fitness background as a competitive swimmer and a fitness assistant at Girls’ Inc Bodies in Motion.  But her ultimate goal stretches far beyond physical fitness.

“My ultimate goal is to build  well equipped, non-profit gyms for the youth throughout Oakland that also incorporate academic tutoring, mentoring, and counseling. I want to make it easier and more common for our youth to be fit, focused and stress free. So much of our youth are misled and need guidance and by creating these gyms I’d like to help provide that.”

With great goals and energy, she’ll make me look like a turtle going backwards.  OK.  I’m now excited and ready for Joi’s warm-up tomorrow.  Hope you can all make it.  If so, please seek out Joi and tell her thanks.

I’d like to extend a sincere “Thank you” to Mike Woller and Victor from 24-Hour Fitness High Street in Oakland.  They were the ones who recommended Joi.

Prep Day One!

Today is the day the raw materials are delivered and checked.  I don’t envy Kristin Karsch and crew because they have to ensure all big and small items are accounted for after being unloaded from the trucks.  In addition to the playground, there are also side projects to be built this Saturday.  This means more nuts and bolts.  By the way, if you are planning to volunteer this Saturday, please bring a drill with a phillips head if you have it. 

Today is also the day to ensure that we’ll have all the necessary tools for Saturday. 

We finally secured a couple of DJ’s and a fitness instructor to lead the warm-up in the morning ceremonies!  Yey for teamwork!  I’ll post more detailed information on them as soon as I get it.  More to come…

Build Day Agenda!

Kristin Karsch gave us the rundown on what to expect from August 16, 17 and 18.  I added a Build Day Agenda to the menu to summarize the Build Day timeline.   This should be helpful if you are one of the volunteers or part of the media covering the event.   The agenda, of course, is organic and could change depending on how fast things are being built.

Excitement is in the air

It’s been busy the past several days for all the committees involved in the Playground Build.  The volunteers sign up are increasing and the focus it to get at least 20 Build Captains for the side projects.  KaBoom! organizer, Kristin Karcsh just sent out a list of potential projects and they all look great.  A raised planter and a cool outdoor classroom are just two of the projects.  I’m really excited to see them built.

Jetblue is also rounding up its San Francisco Bay Area team to help out.  I’m also trying to rally the troops because this is the first Bay Area KaBoom! playground to be built.  I want to see you there SFO, OAK, SJC and SMF crew!

I’m really impressed with the efforts of the school parents, principal and teachers.  There is a lot of cross-assisting going on behind the scenes.  I like hearing the excitement and enthusiasm  in their voices during our conferences.  More to come!

Can you cook?

Our Food Committee is looking for five volunteers to cook, grill and distribute the food and refreshments that they are preparing for the Build Day on August 18th. You don’t have to be a 5-Star chef to get this gig. A good smile and knowing when to flip the burger or hotdog will do. The willingness to share your time and have fun with others will suffice.

Our Recruitment Team is also ramping up their efforts in finding volunteers for the Prep Days, August 16 and 17, and, of course, the Build Day on August 18th. They are looking for 12 to 15 volunteers who would take on the role as Build Captains. BC, as we like to call them, will oversee the projects during the Prep Days and Build Day. Don’t worry. Construction background is not a requirement. What we’re looking for are team leaders to guide the various projects.

Again, if you are interested or you think someone you know might be interested, please click on the CONTACT section and send us an email. Hope you see you there!

Be our DJ!

There’s nothing like good music to liven up an event.  That’s why we’re looking for some DJ’s to get the juices flowing during the Build Day on August 18th.  The more the merrier, of course as we’re hoping to spread the beats and music throughout the day.  The Build Day will start at 8:30 am and end around 3pm.  The only thing we ask is that you avoid playing music that can be deemed vulgar and offensive to kids and young adults.  As with everything involved in building this playground, this DJ gig will be on a voluntary basis.  In turn, we’ll make sure that your time and effort do not go unnoticed.  You’ll be featured in this blog and as with any event, the Build Day will provide networking opportunities and public exposure.  We are expecting close to 300 people including Bay Area media and Oakland VIPs.

As a former mobile DJ in the late 90’s, I know what’s involved in setting up and performing for an event.  I wish I had all the technologies of today though.  I could have done away with my heavy record crates for some invisible MP3’s.  After several years of being a mobile DJ in the San Francisco Bay area, the most rewarding and memorable for me was my gig with the Bay Area Chapter of the Special Olympics.  It was a long night with some hiccups and it was on a volunteer basis.  But it left an indelible mark in my life.  Out of all my gigs, the Special Olympics event is the one I’m most proud of and the one I constantly share every chance I get.

This could be your chance for one such experience.  Visit the Contact section and let us know your music style, contact information and availability.  Again, you don’t have to DJ the whole event.  Thanks in advance!

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