It Takes A Community to Build A PlaygroundIn the words of the builder of the world’s largest playgrounds, Walt Disney, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”  Bayou Pass Village found itself with one big problem: a lot of children and no playground. With that in mind, it got to work.  The residents of Bayou Pass worked eight months to raise money to purchase playground equipment for the community’s children. Neighbors held fundraisers, cookouts, community yard sales and movie nights where they sold popcorn. With the help of Florida Home Partnership, the Community Foundation of Sun City Center and The Home Depot, they reached their $30,000 goal for their new playground.Bayou Pass Village is a planned community of 230 houses that is designed for first-time homeowners with modest incomes. Families contributed 600 hours of “sweat equity” toward building their homes, and they took it upon themselves to build something special for everyone.They called the project Bayou Pass Playground Build-Up, but this project would culminate with more than just a playground, this would be a celebration.The event seemed more like a festival than a work day. The community celebrated with music, clowns, bounce-houses, a caricature artist, games, food, games and Tampa Bay Lightning cheerleaders. The First Apostolic Church from Ruskin grilled steak, chicken, hotdogs and hamburgers for the 100 volunteers who were building the new playground.The local Home Depot sent a team of 12 employees to take part in the build-up; Bryon Kintz, the receiving manager at the Sun City Center Home Depot, was the team captain for the build-up. “This is such a rewarding experience for us,” said Kintz. “We love giving back to the community.” Luan Nguyen, a Bayou Pass Village resident, co-chaired the project with Melinda Dale from the Florida Home Partnership. Nguyen assisted in deciding the scope of the playground project, which includes a shelter, picnic tables and benches as well as a large playground.Nguyen and his 7-year-old son Alex were sweaty but excited at the build-up, having looked forward to the day for months. “This is a culmination of all our hard work,” he said.Dale, who facilitated the build-up celebration event, was happy with the enormous turnout. “This is definitely a labor of love by the residents and the whole community,” she said. “They all should be very proud about their accomplishment.”The residents may now also claim that “sweat equity” built their community playground which the children will benefit from for years to come.For more information about the Bayou Pass Village, please visit the Florida Home Partnership Website at or call 672-7860.Photo Caption: Team Depot from Sun City Center helps build the new playground at Bayou Pass Village.

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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.