Brooks & Dunn, volunteers unite for playground build
By Alexandyr Kent
The (Shreveport) Times
Brooks & Dunn visited a new place to play Thursday, but they didn't bring their guitars. Instead of hooks and harmonies, the country duo donated time and celebrity to the building of a new playground for the Queensborough Friendship House at 2800 Darien St.
"The embarrassing thing is that you want to be here all day," said a humble Kix Brooks, a Shreveport native. "You always want to be the one hammering the last nail and fixing the last screw."
The duo lent their wrench savvy to rock wall assembly before jetting off to Nashville, where they were scheduled to promote the building of a second playground.
Both were built by the nonprofit KaBOOM! in partnership with The Home Depot.
Brooks & Dunn received The Home Depot Humanitarian Award at this year's Academy of Country Music Awards, and Brooks decided to support Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal, which established the Queensborough Friendship House.
Ronnie Dunn didn't recall playgrounds like these from his young days. "They didn't have KaBOOM! when we were kids. We just fell down and went kaboom!" he joked.
Brooks credited the 250 or so volunteers for making the playground materialize.
G.B. Austin, a general manager at the Bossier City Home Depot, said volunteering was rewarding, and his employees were determined to make him sweat.
"I guess we're going to be here all day," said Austin, who spent 10 years in the military. "It's awesome to try and give back."
He suggested his company needs to show its customers it cares about community well-being. "Without them coming to see us, there is no need for a Home Depot."
Steven Dillick was one of many spreading small woodchips around the footings for a slide, swings and bridge. "I think the mulch crew is gaining on the concrete crew," he said as volunteers ground down a small mountain of fragrant pine mulch. "I'm just one spoke in the wheel."
Lahoma Williams put her muscle into holding up a slide platform as other volunteers assembled features piece by piece.
"I just like helping people and seeing the end result," Williams said. It was important for her to help establish a "safe place" for children to play.
While fitting footholds on the rock wall, Andrea Jackson said the cause was personally important. "I used to be a day-care director, so this was right up my alley," Jackson said. "It makes me want to be a kid again."
To chants of "Hercules! Hercules!" Randy Jackson sledge-hammered stakes into the ground. He hoped the playground would give area children something to do. "I came just to help."
Faye Scroggins and some SPAR Silver Star Cheerleaders focused their efforts on planting a raised garden bed with pansies, dianthus, kale and monkey grass. "We need more parks and some places for kids to play," Scroggins said.
Mack McCarter, Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal's founder, was happy to see volunteers, nonprofits and corporations come together to support the Friendship House. "This is the kind of matrix that really takes you to the next level in effectiveness," he said. "I'm just blown away."