RALEIGH – Oftentimes without even realizing it, the community becomes part of something that will touch hundreds of lives for years to come. In fact, heartstrings get pulled, sometimes even unexpectedly. It’s because someone or some group commits to a purpose. In my anticipation, it’s an estimated 60 volunteers who will assemble tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. to build a playground for the children at the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities. All falling under the halo of giving back to the community, sharing of yourself, time and talents.

This playgound project was adopted last September by a volunteer-driven, five-member team from 2004-05 Leadership Raleigh class for which I am a part. Our goal: to build a new, wheelchair-accessible playground for the Center’s students and residents and their families.

Two years ago, fellow Tammy Lynn Center Board Member, Dana Dorroh, wrote about the importance of giving back in another LTW column, saying “I’m reminded that the most valuable technology of yesterday, today and tomorrow is the integral technology of the heart. Business is crucially important, though we should never lose focus that the ultimate bottom line is caring for one another. It’s giving to one another. It’s showing up to help.”

Who will be touched
The new playground will benefit children and adults with severe developmental disabilities who live at the Center as well as children who attend the educational programs. Developmental disabilties do not discriminate in color, economic status, educational background or business acumen. For no rhyme or reason, any family can be affected with a profound disability and any person’s healthy mind can be swiftly altered as a result of an accident.

Beginning tomorrow and for the next eight Saturdays, scores of volunteers will transform the Center’s current inaccessible playground into a park-like environment complete with wheelchair-accessible surfacing, fun and functional swings, specially-designed interactive accessories, all surrounded by a fully landscaped, shaded area. The new playground will be built with the special needs population in mind, providing a stimulating and instructional outdoor area for the children and their families.

Many givers, many workers
So far, more than $100,000 of in-kind donations and labor has made this project become reality. There’s multitudes of people and companies to acknowledge and many more to come:

* The playground designers are the architecture firms of Pearce, Brinkley, Cease & Lee and Chris Hilt Designs. Working on this intimately, without their generosity, drive and expertise, this project wouldn’t have happened and we thank you.

* Team member Bruce Knight has organized work teams from Skanska USA and Gregory Poole, among others — thank you for orchestrating this enormous plan.

*For ensuring we’re well fed, thanks to Golden Corral on Hwy 70, McDonald’s, and Sams Club.

*For jumping in and helping, CapStrat’s John Peterson and Ben Laws.

*And to fellow team members from Leadership Raleigh, I am inspired and in awe when I think about what can be accomplished under a unified vision and a dedication to a cause like no other. We wanted to see something tangible to completion, we wanted to complete something for which to be proud. I think we’ve already received more than we thought. Thanks for giving:

Rachel Arendt — Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
Tad Doering — R.H. Donnelley
Richard Haygood — Kilpatrick Stockton
Bruce Knight — Skanska USA

*To the countless volunteers, thank you for saying “YES” and thank you for taking time from family and business obligations. Thank you for reaching, inpiring and believing in the special lives at the Tammy Lynn Center. Your gifts will linger far into the future as families will create treasured memories. You’ve touched a life you may never know.

So tomorrow we’ll embark on a huge task for which no one is being paid to do. But you know, it’s really technology at its best – the technology of the human heart.

If you want to get involved, contact me at (919) 810-7272.

Cindy Stranad started as a free-lance contributor to Local Tech Wire and today she directs its sales and marketing efforts. She is the principal of Articulon, a boutique PR and marketing company in Raleigh. She also serves on the board of directors for the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilties. She can be reached at Cindy@localtechwire.com.