On a single day in August, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) employees came together with community members to make one of East Helena’s dreams come true.
BCBSMT partnered with the City of East Helena, Helena’s Playable Playgrounds, and KaBOOM!, a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting kids more active, to build a brand new playground in Main Street Park on August 23, 2014. It was a dream that was months in the making, according to Heather Ireland, one of the primary organizers from the East Helena community.
“I’d been part of the process from the beginning, ever since our team took it to city council for their initial approval in May of 2014, and I was involved in every aspect of the build since that day,” Heather said. “I was born and raised in East Helena, so when I was approached by Helena’s Playable Playground and KaBOOM! regarding the opportunity to build a new, state-of-the-art playground in Main Street Park, I jumped at the opportunity.”
The morning of the playground build, the first of approximately 300 volunteers began to arrive at 6:30 a.m. and were greeted with balloons, smiles – and pouring rain. BCBSMT President Mike Frank kicked off the work day by thanking the project organizers from KaBOOM! and East Helena. He was thrilled to see how many employees and community members turned out to help with the project, despite the less-than-perfect weather.
“You should have heard the cheers as the teams headed out to their work stations,” he said.
BCBSMT regularly sponsors projects like the playground build, which will help improve families’ health in communities throughout Montana. This particular project, however, was extra special, as the redesign of the park will play an integral role in uniting the East Helena community by providing both children and adults a place to play and be active together.
Heather Ireland is already starting to see the transformation.
“I played at that park as a little girl, and wanted the same opportunities for my children,” she said. “Having this for East Helena was so important – play is being lost, and we don’t want to see that happen. The amount of pride I feel is overwhelming and I am so thankful to BCBSMT for bringing this to our community.”