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Volunteers build playground, community

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Posted at 4:41 PM, May 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-30 16:41:31-04

Hundreds of volunteers came together Monday to continue construction on a playground at the campus of the Chizuk Amuno synagogue in Pikesville.

And, in the process, the organizers hope that they’re able to build community as well.

Members of the Chizuk Amuno congregation are working with their own and volunteers from the Krieger Schechter Day School, the Rosenbloom Religious School and the Goldsmith Early Childhood Education Center.

Stephen Pomerantz, one of the co-chairs of the year-long project, said that it’s “indescribable” seeing all the work come together and the playground start to go up.

The congregation decided that the campus needed a new playground. But, instead of just hiring someone to come and design and build one, Pomerantz said, they decided to work together to design and build the play space themselves.

Committees called “teams” instead of task forces, to keep a playground feel, have been working for over a year to raise money, design the playground and make sure everything comes together.

A small professional staff, from Leathers & Associates, a firm that specializes in building playgrounds with communities, has helped the team with design and material purchase. A few members of staff are on-site to help with construction, as well.

But the bulk of the work force comes from the volunteers.

The volunteers come from all age groups and all experience levels. While there are some professional contractors on site, Pomerantz said that most of the work is being done by those without professional construction experience.

Last week, volunteers had to start construction in the pouring rain and work through mud that Pomerantz says was knee-deep.

And, while projects like this are often funded by a few large donors, Pomerantz said that over 300 people contributed in smaller amounts to help the team raise over $500,000 for the project.

The finished playground space will have an enclosed area for younger kids, an all-ages play space and an amphitheater.

Project leaders said they expect to have the playground finished Memorial Day, and will use the next week to make sure everything is safe and secure for play. They’ll be hosting a grand opening Sunday at 10 a.m.

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