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Club uses Kiwanis connection to secure discounts on new playground equipment

Vicki Hermansen | May 18, 2020

Kiwanis Club of Raleigh

The Kiwanis Club of Raleigh, North Carolina, set its sights on a big project to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The 227-member club wanted to do something special, says Frances Bobbie, the club’s immediate past president.   

Instead of one project, the club did two — refurbishing an existing playground and building another. The club finished the new project last fall and celebrated with a ribbon cutting. The new playground, temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had been popular with kids and families.  

The projects began in 2015 when the club realized its 100th anniversary was five years away, says John “Nick” Fountain, co-chair of the club’s centennial committee. “We thought we ought to get going.”  

A survey of club members showed members wanted something hands-on, local and worthy of marking 100 years. The club asked the city about contributing to a project and landed on rehabilitating a playground for children of all abilities. The club raised US$100,000 to help refurbish Sassafras All Children’s Playground.  

But they wanted to do more. Working with the city, they helped renovate Kiwanis Park.  

“It was run down, and was in bad shape, but it had our name on it,” Fountain says.  

The club’s foundation committed to raising $125,000 over five years, and the city passed a bond issue to cover additional costs.  

Both leveraged their relationship with Landscape Structures Inc. The club took advantage of discounts available through LSI’s Kiwanis partnership, and the city did the same through its partnership. Club members made up the difference when bids came in just above cash in hand.   

The club held a ribbon-cutting event last fall, celebrating the playground equipment and the city’s contribution of a new building and ballfield. Spring celebrations at the park have been put on hold, but the members hope to celebrate with a museum exhibit eventually.  

Meanwhile, the club continues to help kids, recently holding a diaper drive and planning a summer food drive.  

“Community needs have not gone away,” Fountain says, “and neither have we.” 

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