By: Felicia Truman, City Year New Hampshire corps member
On Saturday, April 26th, Lori Upham, the principal of Gossler Park Elementary School, in Manchester, New Hampshire, worked in the drizzling rain besides more than 100 volunteers from Comcast, City Year and her local community as part of the 13th annual Comcast Cares Day.
“I’m so thankful for the help of Comcast and City Year for not only beautifying the school but for making a difference in all of our schools. Here at Gossler we don’t have many advantages, but we are so thankful and appreciative. Today, the spirit of community was heartwarming,” said Miss Upham.
The volunteers arrived ready to work tirelessly on beautifying the landscape, picking up litter, and painting a mural inside the school.
Serving at Gossler Park, I can see firsthand that not all schools and communities have the same resources. This is why partners like Comcast and NBCUniversal are key to helping neighborhoods and school grounds become positive environments for children to play and go to school.
When City Year and Comcast volunteers entered the school they had their work cut out for them. The field and basketball courts were covered in leaves and dirt, and the area was littered with trash, including shards of glass left over from broken beer bottles. But everyone looked beyond the initial appearance and worked all day to create a safe and healthy space for the students. “We’re doing this because all schools and all kids are important regardless of their zip code,” said Julia Lorentsen, a City Year corps member.
Across the country, 95,0000 volunteers, including more than 1,500 volunteers in New Hampshire, joined together to help improve, rejuvenate and beautify communities for Comcast Cares Day, the one of nation’s largest single-day corporate service event. The event first started in 2001, and since then Comcast and NBCUniversal employees, along with their families and friends, have devoted themselves to helping improve local schools, parks and communities. It’s estimated that more than half a million people have served over three million hours on this event since 2001. “When everyone is invested in the community, the community gets better,” explained Kiyo Gomi, a senior corps member at City Year New Hampshire. City Year has had a partnership with Comcast and NBCUniversal for thirteen years, and was proud to join volunteers again to serve, this time at Gossler Park Elementary school.
After the day was over, it was obvious that the volunteers had put their hearts and souls into their work. The grounds were neat and clean. Miss Upham was smiling from ear-to-ear at the noticeable transformation at Gossler Park. Serving at Gossler, I am proud to work with such dedicated staff and students, but now I am even more proud to be a part of this community because my team and I helped Comcast and NBCUniversal make Gossler a safer and cleaner environment for my students.
The difference Comcast and NBCUniversal made during Comcast Cares Day was especially noticeable when students and teachers returned to school. At recess, just before my students went to play kickball, a second-grader smiled at me and said, “It looks so nice. It used to be dirty!” And one of the paraprofessionals at Gossler added, “I was so impressed when I stepped outside. We are all so appreciative here at Gossler of the hard work that was done. They did an amazing job and you can see it on all the kids’ faces.”
When this year’s Comcast Cares Day came to a close, the volunteers and I circled up in City Year fashion. We put our hands, still in the gloves we had used to pick up litter, in the middle, and mine made it on top. A City Year tradition is to say an inspirational word that sums up your day. And in that moment I looked at the faces around me and realized how fortunate I was to be among people who worked every day to make a difference. “Service,” I said, loudly and proudly. “1…2…3… Service!” the volunteers repeated after me. We raised our hands in the air to signal that the day was over but I knew that for the children at Gossler Park Elementary School the impact of this service had just begun.