More than a dozen Ojai Valley School students and teachers from both campuses volunteered this past weekend to help reconstruct the Libbey Park playground, joining more than 400 community volunteers who pitched in to bring the project to fruition.
Donning their green OVS shirts, touting more than a century of volunteerism, students shoveled, moved, and spread mulch around the playground for four heat-stricken hours. The work was tough and tiring, but the student volunteers toughed it out on both Saturday and Sunday to prepare for the playground’s grand opening on Ojai Day
Senior Ally Feiss, who has lived in Ojai her entire life, said the hard work was well worth it.
“It was awesome seeing the whole community out there helping out,” Ally said. “I’ve lived here my whole life and I used to play on the equipment when I was a little girl, and to see them remodeling so the generations to come can have a new fun place to play is great.”
OVS became involved in the playground rehabilitation through the school’s new Associate Admissions Director Misty Volaski. Ms. Volaski connected students with the Ojai Valley Lions Club, which organized the community effort.
The City of Ojai funded most of the costs for the design of the playground. But city leaders decided to have volunteers build the playground because it allowed the city to buy a more elaborate play structure for the downtown park.
The project required 2,000 volunteer hours to complete.
“Without the volunteers the project wouldn’t have been done,” said Lions Club representative Dave Hunt.
Ms. Volaski said that volunteering allows students to learn how to problem-solve, grow as individuals, and, at the same time, give back to the community.
“By volunteering, we learn new things about our world and ourselves,” she said.
Students weren’t the only ones who gave of themselves.
Lower Campus math teacher Duncan Wallace also contributed to the Libbey Park project. using his craftsman skills to help construct the seesaw, mount a balance beam, and build a “crazy super spinny thing.”
Mr. Wallace first heard about the project from a few organizations he volunteers for, and decided to sacrifice a few hours of his Sunday morning to help out. He ended up staying until 6 p.m., his only break being fifteen minutes for lunch.
“I felt obligated to give back to the community in which I live and benefit from,” said Mr. Wallace, adding that when he announced his connection to OVS he received positive reviews of the OVS groups who volunteered at the site. “I was worn out, but couldn’t have been happier or more proud that I was able to be part of this great gift to the city and the kids in it!”