Two years ago, Barbara and Palmer Howell pulled an angel out of a Christmas tree at their church. The angel had the name of a child to whom they could donate a gift for Christmas. It was a child at Our Mother's Home in San Carlos Park. The two came to the home with their gift and, when they saw the delight on the children's — and their mothers' — faces, the Palmers were hooked.
Hooked on the organization and its mission. Ever since that day, the two have been involved with Our Mother's Home, a shelter for pregnant teenage girls, and their children, who are in the foster care system.
When they found out about the installation of new playground equipment Saturday morning, the Howells were there to help. The two showed up at about 8 a.m. along with 30 or so other volunteers, and workers from the Cape Coral-based company, Play Rite.
The home got grants from the Copperleaf Foundation and the Brooks Foundation. The home bought the equipment from Play Rite and the workers there promised to donate their time to help put the playground together.
There were plenty of people to help them Saturday morning and plenty of food — donated by local businesses — to keep the volunteers going.
The mood was upbeat as holes were dug, concrete mixture prepared and boundaries marked by string to get the serious work of creating a playground under way.
"The organization helps provide an opportunity for the young mothers and builds hope," said Jim Duquin, a member of the board of directors of the Copperleaf Foundation. "I think there is a tremendous need to support them."
The 58-year-old's dirty hands bore testimony to a morning of hard work as he dug holes beside the others.
Having a place like Our Mother's Home to go to provides a good foundation for the children, said Terry Gibson, also one of the volunteers.
"It helps the mothers raise their children in a good environment and that will eventually be a benefit to the society," Gibson said.
These children do not have what most people take for granted — a family, said John Ruehl, chairman of the board for Our Mother's Home.
"We recently had a young lady here; it was her 39th placement," Ruehl said. "We have always prided ourselves on giving these young women discipline, love and encouragement. We just want to give them a family environment to raise their children."