Lending Many Helping Hands
“Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous!” said Antoine Garibaldi, president of Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, describing his experience volunteering for this year's service project at Everett Middle School in the Mission District of San Francisco. Garibaldi was one of more than 100 business officers who spent the Saturday before the annual meeting painting and decorating the school's cafeteria, painting hallways, and building furniture for the library—transforming these areas into warm, comfortable spaces for students and teachers to enjoy.
They also planted and trimmed trees, hauled hundreds of wheelbarrows full of dirt and mulch, and converted an old courtyard into a learning garden by constructing five large planters and bringing in tables, umbrellas, and comfortable seating.
Built in 1928, Everett's building was in need of help but was caught in the deep budget cuts of the San Francisco school district. The school's population is ethnically diverse and more than 65 percent of the students qualify for the free-lunch program, yet average daily attendance exceeds 90 percent, and the dropout rate is a low .3 percent.
This year's refurbishing project was once again a partnership of NACUBO and TIAA-CREF with support from ARAMARK Higher Education, SunGard Higher Education, and Bon Appétit Management Co. Dorm in a Box provided an additional donation of library tables.
The volunteers' energy and enthusiasm was evident to Tessa Hedstrom, corporate programs manager of HandsOn Bay Area, which provided logistical assistance and oversight. “The teams were so wonderful and got an incredible amount of work accomplished,” said Hedstrom. “I was so impressed by their gusto!”
Everett's principal, Richard Curchi, was overcome with emotion at the work accomplished. He estimated the total value of the improvements at well over $100,000, adding, “This would never have occurred without the hard work and generosity of the volunteers. You have affected the school for years to come.”
Kathryn Hildreth, director of enter-prise marketing for TIAA-CREF, thanked HandsOn Bay Area for its expert management of the project. “It was a fun, productive day, and I am proud of the impact we were able to make at the school and in the community,” she said.
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