On Tuesday, the 49ers partnered with The United Way of the Bay Area and The Volunteer Centers of the Bay Area during Week of Caring to revamp recess for the Belle Haven Community School located in Menlo Park.
49ers wide receivers Josh Morgan, Jason Hill, and Dominique Zeigler joined more than 20 volunteers in putting the finishing touches to the play structure at the school, which included shoveling and delivering wheelbarrows of tanbark around the playground.
Last school year, parents, school staff and donors teamed up to purchase a new play structure for the primary grades. In late August of this year, these volunteers initiated the first phase of installing the play structure and with the help of all the volunteers today, the second phase is complete. The play structure is now safe and ready for the children to use during their recess period.
Those involved in completing the project expect that the area will make a positive and long-term impact on the children of Belle Haven Community School.
"Things like this, I didn't have growing up. I didn't have a playground to play on," said Morgan. "All we had was concrete out there and pretty much just the streets. So, giving kids an opportunity to do something better with their lives – that's always important to me."
The task was made easy, and fun, thanks to so many volunteers pitching in and sharing the workload.
"It's always fun to give back, and when people team up like the United Way and the 49ers it's nothing but fun," Hill stated. "There are a lot of smiling faces out here, and a lot of work is getting done. I'm having fun."
Once the players and volunteers finished laying the tanbark, the 49ers presented the school with additional playground equipment courtesy of Sports Authority in Mountain View. Equipment donated included new tetherballs, footballs, basketballs, softballs, and sports bags to carry the equipment. The 49ers also presented the school with a banner for the play structure from Fast Signs.
Director of Community Relations for the San Francisco 49ers, Joanne Pasternack expressed the impact of partnering with the United Way and other organizations to make a difference in our community.
"Through the 49ers Community Tuesdays program, the 49ers are excited to be able to give back to the community and to make a difference day by day. With our partnerships with the United Way we're able to make a bigger difference because we're able to bring more volunteers to the table. These kids have been dreaming about this moment for months. They drew pictures, they envisioned what they wanted for their playground structure and it's really exciting for us to be here today to help make it become a reality."
Week of Caring, a partnership between United Way of the Bay Area and The Volunteer Centers of the Bay Area, provides an easy and unique way for organizations to strengthen community involvement. The event connects volunteers from Bay Area businesses to hundreds of projects organized by local nonprofits. In 2007, Week of Caring mobilized more than 6,000 volunteers from 57 companies in support of 150 local nonprofit organizations.
"The United Way's partnership with the NFL is one of the longest and oldest corporate philanthropic partnerships in the United States," said Michael Lynch, director of the United Way of the Bay Area. "We've been partners with the NFL since the 1970's, and we've been working really tightly here with our local partners to be able to make some change and create some really great impact in communities."
The school chosen for the revamp, Belle Haven Community School, is designated as an underperforming school under the federal No Child Left Behind guidelines and is currently under the State of California's Program Improvement status. As part of the Ravenswood School District it serves grades K-8 and serves the largest number of students in the district.
Maria Ibarra, the Belle Haven School Principal, has already seen changes in her students with the efforts the 49ers and the United Way of the Bay Area are doing for the children.
"It's a program improvement school but for the first time in about six years they actually made their API. They shot up 22 points so the students are also very excited about that. It's kind of all coming together for them with all the supports we're trying to put in place," Ibarra said.