Peace through Play

Narrative Abstract


RSVP has successfully organized several large scale programs in the past, most recently RSVP constructed a city wide Community Garden for Fort Madison, a town with a population of 11,476.The garden currently has 35 volunteers who participate on a daily basis. The grand opening of the garden involved a live remote from a local radio station, catering service, coverage from two newspapers as well as agricultural vendors. During the month of July, RSVP launched a pilot program, which promoted shared bikes to the citizens of Fort Madison with the help of the Iowa State Penitentiary and the City of Fort Madison. Thus far, this sustainable program has been covered by two newspapers and currently has twenty (20) bicycles to the local population. It is the first of its kind in Southeast Iowa. The director of RSVP has extensive experience in planning events the predate his employment with RSVP, such as planning concert venues at Southern Utah University and Ricks College and even organized events while managing a business in Boulder, Colorado. These events incorporated the use of anywhere between 50 to 200 volunteers and employees. The City of Fort Madison and its civic groups (including the Lions club, Kiwanis, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, LULAC and the Santa Fe Methodist Church) hosted a well received day of remembrance for the victims of 9/11 that included ceremonies and speeches to address an audience of several hundred citizens.


9/11 Service Experience


On behalf of the City of Fort Madison and local civic organizations, RSVP would like to erect a new playground for the children at Victory Park and name it in honor of the victims of 9/11.grant funds would be used to purchase the playground equipment from KaBoom, which is a nationally recognized playground equipment manufacturing company that specializes in providing playgrounds to economically disadvantaged communities and urban areas. The park current playground equipment is antiquated and if inspected, would likely fail national safety and handicap accessible codes. Victory Park was chosen for a variety of reasons, it was named a second time after soldiers returned from World War I originally called Athletic Field the city lost many young men who were drawn off to the war in 1917.

The events of 9/11 and the subsequent war that resulted has paralleled past events in that many of our young men have left to serve our country. This park not only

Memorializes 9/11 but will pay tribute to our own fallen soldiers.










Practices and Volunteer engagement



  • RSVP would begin the project with existing volunteers and identify different leaders from that group to assess and execute the project plan. RSVP and its Director would contact local civic organization leaders to organize the various phases of the project, thereby forming a committee to oversee and manage the playground and commemoration project. The committee would then develop a comprehensive construction plan and assess all the details of the work plan, including the number of required volunteers, equipment rates and safety codes, material required, etc. The RSVP Director would manage all public relations and media outreach to establish the needs for volunteers and use a variety of media to involve the community. Such media may be: area newspapers, radio stations, social media such as Facebook, and targeted emails, rally the community for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.RSVP would address and speak to all the City of Fort Madison’s Civic organizations to recruit volunteers and engage the leadership to contribute financially to the project, as well as recruiting volunteers for the project, The following is a step by step plan to implement the creation of the memorial playground.
  •  Establish a committee to determine the best location for the memorial playground and create a liaison between the committee and the City of Fort Madison and the Parks & Recreation Department.
  • Committee liaison will produce the various options that *KaBoom has to offer.
  • Verification of zoning permits, national building codes and handicap accessible rules
  • Begin recruitment for volunteers within the City of Fort Madison
  • Organize volunteers by age and ability
  • Committee will lead each phase of construction
  • Establish within the committee leaders to start each phase
  • Committee will be assigned specific positions(i.e. Recruitment,  Treasurer, Design, Donation, P.R. Construction, Volunteer recorder)
  • Adopt final plan and begin construction
  • Track donation, materials, and volunteer hours.
  • Each phase of construction will be announced and recognized through media outlets/Blogs/facebook, e-mail, websites, webcams and updated weekly
  • Endowments created to provide long term sustainability.
  • Completion of 9/11 Memorial playground

Dedication and observance of 9/11 Memorial Playground








Tribute, Lives and Legacies



The reasoning behind the playground as a memorial is that we were all children and as a child we looked at the world without thinking of politics, war and hatred. The children could commemorate the lives lost by recognizing we are all here together as human beings that through positive behavior we can be more cohesive as a collective community going beyond ethnicity, religion, and philosophy. They will also understand that this is a place where heroes and dedication are important to make a great country greater. The park is symbolic historically so it reaches out to a wider population that after war there is a time of healing. Participants will adopt the name of the fallen from a roster to volunteer their time in their honor and the names of the victims will be updated daily so that all that lost their lives will be recognized as volunteers. This is a ideal way to track the time spent and the sheer volume of work that needs to be done in recognition of the 9/11 tragedy. Each piece of playground equipment will be designated as a tribute to those victims. For example ,the slide would commemorate Tower 1,Upon entering the Memorial Playground a wall will be in plain site decorated by children volunteers permanently dedicating the park.



Impact and the Community


The impact this will have on the community will easily be measurable and goes beyond just the amount of hours served. The area around the park is a low income area and while Fort Madison does have a YMCA and a public pool, even those are unattainable by a sizable portion of the community. Lee County has an unemployment rate of 12.6 percent the highest in the state of Iowa and the majority of available work is industrial, which with three shifts allows very little time for parents and their children to spend that necessary quality time together. In addition 14.6 percent of families in Lee County are placed at or below the national poverty level. This playground will serve a s a truly public and free space for all of Fort Madison’s citizens, regardless of income level. The playground will also incorporate modern picnic tables, doggie stations and the potential for a outdoor water fountain and shaded area to encourage use by the general public. The most recent playground was built Five years ago on the opposite side of town. the impact on volunteers would be measured by survey as well as incorporating them into other ongoing projects not only through RSVP but the various other needs in Fort Madison. RSVP will be collecting the information from volunteers with a form that asks what types of volunteer work they would be willing to serve on future projects. In the organizational aspect RSVP would create a list of strong leaders and also serve as a clearinghouse of resources that would be future sustainable community projects. The long term goal of the playground and volunteers would be that on the Anniversary date of 9/11, a new component would be added to the memorial playground for the next ten years.






Total number of volunteers that will be engaged (unduplicated count of volunteers, not including volunteer leaders    Total 250


Total number of volunteer leaders that will be engaged.


Total 15


Of the total, how many will be volunteers and volunteer leaders will be adults


Total 200


Of the total, how many volunteers and volunteer leaders will be YOUTH (under the age of 18)


Total 100




Contact Information


Jimmy Wendorf Director RSVP.

Fort Madison, Iowa 52627

(319)-372-7700 ext 201

Fax (319)-372-8661