Angel Organizations of the Month
National Organization of the Month
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit that empowers communities to build playgrounds. We passionately believe that play has purpose, and that unstructured play in particular helps make children happier, fitter, smarter, more socially adept and creative.
The KaBOOM! Vision
Our vision is a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.
The KaBOOM! Mission
Our mission is to create great playspaces through the participation and leadership of communities.
The KaBOOM!erang Principle
The Law of Incredible Returns
Time. Advice. Heart. Money. Sweat Equity.
It doesn't matter whether you're a kid, parent, community leader or businessperson — whatever you put into KaBOOM!, it always comes back to you. That's because of the KaBOOM!erang Principle. It's our law of incredible returns.
What you do today can mean changed lives, stronger communities and brighter futures tomorrow.
Do it for the kids. Do it to make a difference.
KaBOOM!. It starts with a playground.
A Call to Action
In August 1995, shortly after moving to Washington, D.C., 24-year-old Darell Hammond read a story in the Washington Post about two local children who suffocated while playing in an abandoned car because they didn’t have anywhere else to play. Darell, who had previously helped build several playgrounds for other organizations, realized this tragedy could have been prevented. The passion was born, the idea was conceived.
A Formative Childhood
Darell feels very fortunate because he was lucky enough to have had a great place to play growing up. Darell and his eight brothers and sisters grew up at Mooseheart: The Child City and School, a group home outside of Chicago. Mooseheart is 100 percent funded by the generosity of members of Moose International. Darell was provided with a wonderful childhood and has fond memories of skipping rocks and climbing on the Mooseheart playground. In addition to providing a loving and stable home, the Men and Women of the Moose showed Darell the difference volunteers can make in a child’s life.
Finding a Calling
After graduating high school, Darell attended Ripon College in Wisconsin. It was during his freshman year there that he built his first playground—pitching in to help a friend’s mother who was an active community volunteer. Although he never finished college, after studying politics and government, Darell participated in an Urban Studies Fellowship in Chicago through the Associated Colleges of the Midwest.
While in Chicago, Darell studied under Dr. John ‘Jody’ Kretzmann, Director of the Assets Based Community Development Institute (ABCD Insitute) at Northwestern University. The philosophy of Assets Based Community Development was an epiphany for Darell. Jody became Darell’s mentor and the construct of the ABCD Institute would become the foundation of the KaBOOM! community-build model, which mobilizes struggling communities using resources already at hand and shows them how to work toward positive change.
In 1994, Darell helped lead the inaugural year of City Year in Chicago. Darell was then selected by City Year to relocate to Columbus, Ohio, to plan and lead the service project component of City Year’s first national conference, CYZYGY. Under Darell’s leadership, 600 City Year volunteers built two playgrounds and more than 500 community volunteers joined the incredible day of service. Watching the volunteers take on their challenges in a fun and productive way, Darell realized that with organization, leadership, and minimal training, communities could make huge improvements to their neighborhoods and their lives.
It Starts with a Playground
And so it was in the summer of 1995, when Darell read the article about the two children who died because they didn’t have anywhere to play, he knew he had to act. As luck would have it, Darell and his friend Dawn Hutchison had been contacted by Youth Service America to plan and lead a day of service. They instantly knew they’d build a playground. Although not yet under the KaBOOM! name, that first KaBOOM! community playground build took place in October 1995, at Livingston Manor in southeast Washington, D.C. With ‘honorary project manager’ seven-year-old Ashley Brodie helping every step of the way, Darell and Dawn mobilized the disparate community to come together and act on behalf of its youngest residents. Funded by The Home Depot and Minkoff Company Inc., the build lasted five days and involved more than 500 volunteers. The project was covered in the Washington Post and Darell wrote an article about it for Guideposts magazine. The article was later published in the book Stone Soup for the World.
Knowing they had tapped into something powerful, Darell and Dawn incorporated KaBOOM! in April 1996 with help from Suzanne Apple, who was the Director of Community Affairs for The Home Depot. Kimberly-Clark signed on as the first official Funding Partner for KaBOOM! as a way to celebrate their 125th anniversary.
Several months later, after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed the country’s Gulf Coast region, in December 2005, KaBOOM! launch Operation Playground, an initiative to build 100 playgrounds in areas affected by the storms. Operation Playground was designed to restore a sense of community and provide safe and fun places for children to play in Gulf Coast towns trying to rebuild. First Lady Laura Bush demonstrated her support for Operation Playground by attending our playground build at Hancock North Central Elementary in Kiln, Miss. in January 2006.
The KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play
While we had been rallying individuals to support the cause of play for years, in 2007 we decided to give these efforts a unified name, and so the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play was born. To give the campaign resonance on both an individual and governmental level, we instituted two new initiatives. To rally individuals for the cause of play, we created the Playmaker NeworkMembers of this community receive specific calls to action as well as training opportunities to help them achieve results on a grass-roots level. To make sure our Playmakers are heard by their local governments, we launched the Playful City USA recognition program, which honors the efforts of cities who create a city-wide agenda on play. Our 31 founding Playful City USA communities represented both small and large cities across the nation who shared their ideas and innovations on how to make every city more playful.
A Leader in the Field
Today, KaBOOM! is recognized as a leader among social entrepreneurial organizations and Darell has become a well-known spokesperson for the cause of play. KaBOOM! and Darell have won numerous awards for national service, innovation and leadership. We are best known, though, for our playful and professional staff, the outstanding corporate partners, we have mobilized, the community organizations we have inspired, the advocates we’ve created, the communities we’ve connected and the millions of children who now have great places to play. We continue to find innovative ways to rally communities and individuals who share their experiences and support one another for the cause of play. This type of mass action will mobilize communities from coast to coast to work to ensure that every child has a great place to play within walking distance.
Learn more about the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play.
To learn more about KaBOOM!, visit www.kaboom.org or contact:
4455 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
To Donate to KaBOOM!, here’s how you can contribute:
Click here to donate online with your Visa, Mastercard or American Express card.
If you prefer to call their office with your credit card donation, please contact Donations at 202-464-6420.
To make a cash contribution, please make your check payable to KaBOOM!. KaBOOM! is a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt organization.
Gifts can be mailed to:
attn: Development Department
4455 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008
To view all Angel Organizations of the Month, please click here.