Website helps get Pioneer Playground volunteers

<p>A rendering of the future Pioneer Park playground features the same "pioneer" style of the original playground, which was destroyed in a fire last fall. </p>

An average of a hundred people will be needed for each shift when the Pioneer Ppayground rebuild takes place this June.

Volunteers will rotate through three shifts a day between June 19-23.

It is a massive undertaking, the kind that Pendleton’s new volunteer website pendletonconnect.org hopes to help organize.

“We saw a huge volunteerism spirit in this town,” Chuck Wood said. Wood is both a Pendleton Connect founding member and the Pioneer Playground rebuild volunteer coordinator. The free website was born out of a final project for participants in the Ford Institute leadership program, said Wood.

“We wanted a way to coordinate that desire to help with projects that matched people’s interests.”

In line with the two groups’ community-minded natures, Pendleton Connect and Pioneer Playground rebuild shared an open house at Pendleton Center for the Arts on Saturday. It was the official launch of Pendleton Connect’s website, although the live site has been tinkered with since February. Ten organizations were signed up for the website as of Saturday.

For the playground rebuild effort, the occasion was an opportunity to drum up both volunteers and donations. The rebuild committee sold about 50 pickets at $30 a piece to contribute to the $10,000 still needed to rebuild the park.

Wood said 65 volunteers have signed up online for the summer rebuild of Pioneer Park playground, some requesting multiple shifts.

“The idea is to get people so excited about the process that they keep coming back for more shifts,” said Marty?King, the playground rebuild committee chair.

King said the new playground will be an updated version of the original one. Along with a whimsical clubhouse on one side, the playground will have the same castle/fort main structure.

The community build process is nothing new to Pendleton. Residents did the same thing in 2001 when Pioneer Park’s playground was originally built.

After a still-unknown arsonist burned down the playground nearly 12 years later, King said it felt right to make it a community project once again.

“I think it’s a healing process for some folks,” she said. “So many people were upset by the fire — kids, parents, grandparents. I think many feel we have a responsibility to get it rebuilt.”

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Contact Natalie Wheeler at nwheeler@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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