Energy and spirits were high as the Nashville Predators participated in their third KaBoom! playground build at the Grace M. Eaton Childcare Early Learning Center on Friday, June 20. While this is the third build the Preds have participated in, this build marked the first time that the Preds came together with eight other organizations from the Nashville community to work as part of Corporate Nashville at Work’s Music City Giving program.
Corporate Nashville at Work’s Music City Giving program, made up of Bank of America, Delta Dental of Tennessee, Jackson National, LP Building Products, MAPCO Express, Mars Petcare US, Nashville Electric Service and Piedmont Natural Gas along with the Predators, came together with the hopes of giving back to the Nashville community, and decided to start by partnering with KaBoom!, a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping kids living in poverty by building safe areas for children to play.
The Grace M. Eaton Center, a child care and early learning center located in North Nashville, has been in existence since 1926 and offered KaBoom! and Music City Giving the perfect spot to make a difference in the lives of kids.
Rebecca King, the director of community relations for the Preds, saw the importance of the professional hockey team becoming part of Music City Giving.
“It’s a pretty powerful group of companies who are based in Nashville,” King said. “It’s really important for [the Preds] to give back to the community and this was a unique opportunity for all of the companies to come together and make a huge impact.”
Snow Rose, another member of the Preds’ community relations department, agreed with King. Both note that the lasting impact that Music City Giving is able to have on the kids through the playground build is only the beginning.
“I think that by building rapport with the other organizations, there’s no telling what we can do in the future to benefit the community,” Rose said.
Individuals from all nine organizations involved in Music City Giving were able build relationships throughout the day as more than 200 volunteers participated in the six-hour long project. Volunteers contributed through painting, mixing and laying cement, landscaping, construction and more.
Although many of the volunteers were participating in their first KaBoom! build, there were a few veterans who returned to help.
Paul Cook, a member of the Predators’ hockey operations department, participated in both of the previous builds that the team was involved with.
“[Volunteering] is always fun and I think it gets easier every time because we get more volunteers every year,” Cook said. “People see how fun it is and the contribution we can make. At the end of the day we get to see smiling kids and that’s really what we are out here for.”
Matt Hamann, another member of the hockey operations department, came to volunteer at this build, his second with KaBoom!, because of how much he liked it the first time around.
“I did KaBoom! last year and had a really great time,” Hamann said. “I think the most important part of these projects is giving back to those who can reap the benefits of what we’re doing, and that we’re making an immediate difference in the community for kids.”
KaBoom! President Bruce Bowman worked alongside volunteers throughout the entire day.
Bowman, who was named President of KaBoom! in 2012, believes strongly in the goal of the non-profit organization and how it hopes to make an impact on the lives of children.
“Our core belief at KaBoom! is that play matters to all kids, especially to the 16 million kids living in poverty,” said Bowman. “Our main goal is to bring play to those kids in an active and balanced way so they can thrive as kids and grow up to be successful adults.”
Since 2009, eight out of the 30 NHL teams have participated in a KaBoom! build. With some teams, like the Predators, working on their second or third builds, more teams are participating every year, helping KaBoom! spread their “Play Matters” mission all across North America.
“It seems like new teams participate each year,” Bowman said. “It’s like the more other teams hear about what we do, the more they want to get involved, which we are thrilled with.”
During the build at the Grace M. Eaton Center, 10-year-old YouTube sensation, “Kid President” Robby Novak, stopped by to ensure that volunteers stayed in high spirits, and was able to sum up the entirety of the project from a child’s perspective perfectly.
“This is just awesome!” Kid President said.
Click here to view photos from the KaBoom build >>