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Friends of Anuenue Playground reaches $400K fundraising goal

June 13, 2017 - 8:56am

WAIMEA — After 16 months of intense fundraising events and community efforts, Friends of Anuenue Playground met its $400,000 campaign goal in early June. Made possible through donations and grants, the Waimea facility will be rebuilt by volunteers in October.

Leading the community effort was a small army of local volunteers led by FOAP board members Michele Chavez-Pardini, Vicki Missien, Michele Sullivan and Mimi Kerley.

“Generous May closing donors helped us wrap up our funding goal,” said Missien. “It still seems hard to believe, but it is so exciting and we are so grateful to donors and the community for the support.”

Build week is scheduled for Oct. 24-29.

In January, FOAP had raised $230,000 of the $400,000 goal with donations coming mostly from local residents. Earlier this month, the volunteer-driven organization reached their goal three months prior to a September deadline based on shipping needs.

“To reach the final funding goal we had several donors who offered matching grants, and these really kick started the rise in our funds,” Missien said. “We got some foundation grant money, which is an honor, and led to other donors’ funding. We had some donors who had committed to being ‘closing donors,’ e.g. donors who help at the end with final amounts needed. We also had some ‘surprise angel’ donors who, like the closers, stepped in with generous donations to ensure the build would happen this year.”

More than 150 residents, companies, foundations and the county donated anywhere from $25 to $25,000 each. In May and early June, donors who helped reached the goal were residents Roy and Frances Simperman, Irwin and Concepcion Federman, Live Aloha Realty, Jenn Buddenhagen and Kevin Wiesmann, as well as other anonymous donors.

Originally built in 1992 as a community volunteer project, Anuenue Playground sits in the center of Waimea and is used by hundreds of children weekly. With advice from two structural engineers in 2013, FOAP realized it would be beyond reasonable repair within the next five years. As a group, they then decided to rebuild, which would also meet the county’s current codes and ADA compliance regulations.

Out of the $400,000 raised, $158,425 will be used for structural materials such as timber, hardware and tools. The actual playground equipment, estimated freight and administration costs are about $141,575, while safety ground surfacing will require $82,000. The remaining $18,000 will be used for marketing and engraving materials.

FOAP is currently working on specific plans for building week.

“Now, the big drive is to raise volunteers for the actual build, in-kind donations of labor, tools, materials and food for our volunteers during the build week,” Missien said. “We will also need more than 900 people to help as workers, helpers, with child care and food for one day or more. We will also need five coordinators to oversee childcare, food, materials, tools and the work site. These five positions should be headed by people with experience in those areas.”

Food for build week will be solicited through in-kind donations.

“This will include breakfast, lunch, snacks and all hot and cold beverages for the volunteers,” she said. “We will be approaching groceries, bakeries, beverage vendors, restaurants and other food vendors.”

As for tools, all will be loaned and returned.

“We will rely on loaned tools. Record-keeping is scrupulous and meticulous. Each will be accepted, identified and numbered prior to build week,” Missien said. “All tools and materials will be stored in locked containers. Things we will need include power tools, hand tools and garden tools like shovels and picks. If it’s used for construction, we need it. And we need enough to supply a full work crew every day.”

FOAP is also seeking in-kind donations to help cover shipping costs for materials, as well as hardware such as screws, nails and any additional lumber that be needed.

“In 1992, several contractors and construction companies donated crews’ time, so we had professional labor as an in-kind donation. We are pursuing that possibility for this build as well,” she said.

In addition to the $15,000 received from the county through former Councilwoman Margaret Wille’s efforts last year, the county Department of Parks and Recreation will continue to provide maintenance of the playground.

“The county has been a necessary part of the approval process all along, including getting Disability and Communication Access Board approval,” Missien said. “They reviewed the design to ensure it complied with Hawaii ADA regulations, and approved ground cover that will need to be replaced every few years, as well as shipping that the county will hopefully fund.”

Friends of Anuenue Playground will play a lesser role once the build is completed.

“Any monies received over the amount needed for the build will be saved in a maintenance account, and could assist in future ground cover replacement if needed,” she said.

Play By Design LLC created the playground’s layout, along with community input that blended the original design with the new. Anuenue Playground is under Friends of the Future’s fiscal sponsorship.

For more information, to volunteer for build week, or donate goods go to, email or call 960-6392.

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