Yesterday laughter, excitement and energy coursed through the hallways and all around Hugh J. Boyd Jr. Elementary School in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, for the first time in nearly five months.
The school building, located at 1200 Bay Boulevard, sustained severe flood damage from Hurricane Sandy, forcing 230 students in grades pre-K through 6 to attend classes at the regional high school.
Nearly 160 Verizon employees spent most of the day (Thursday, March 28) volunteering their time to help restore the school and get it ready to welcome students back in the fall. The majority of these Verizon employees, from the Verizon Leadership Development Program (VLDP), along with senior leaders from Verizon, painted classrooms, weeded and planted flowers, built new picnic tables and benches, and more as part of a day of volunteer work at the school organized by Jersey Cares.
Superintendent Triantafillos “Tommy” Parlapanides greeted the volunteers in the morning with words of welcome and appreciation and lots of food. Very quickly Verizon employees broke into groups and began to work. Everyone was focused on working quickly and getting as much done as possible. As there were a number of painting projects, I made my way outside to paint the blacktop; the U.S. Map needed a fresh coat of paint. The weather was in our favor and the sun helped dry the paint so a few coats could be reapplied.
The employees that volunteered primed classroom walls for painting, painted planter murals and filled planters with flowers to beautify outdoor spaces and painted line games on the school’s blacktop to be used during recess.
Volunteers also removed weeds and plant flowers around the schools, built new picnic tables to create an outdoor learning environment and built new benches to be installed along the Seaside Heights boardwalk.
Around noon, Seaside Heights Mayor William Akers stopped by to thank the volunteers for their efforts and spoke about the devastation Sandy did to this community. Principal Chris Raichle of H.J. Boyd Jr. enthusiastically shared that just by having our employees paint, do landscape, build picnic tables, etc. he will not have to spend budget dollars in those areas, but instead can use money for wiring the classrooms, laptops, and other technology.
“Hurricane Sandy affected everyone in New Jersey in some way, and this project gives our employees a great chance to contribute their time to getting this school back into shape,” said Jayne Mayer, director of employee engagement at the Verizon Foundation. “Through our partnership with Jersey Cares, Verizon is able to give its employees opportunities to support our communities.”
Employees in the VLDP program represent the next generation of leaders for Verizon and are committed to being good corporate citizens and giving back to the communities that Verizon serves.
“We’ve embedded volunteerism into Verizon's leadership development programs,” said Theresa Torres, director of workplace performance at Verizon. “Our employees understand that we run to a crisis, not away. As the future leaders of Verizon, it’s important our participants embrace corporate responsibility early so that they continue to build on it throughout their careers.”
At the end of the day the three buses filled with tired, but satisfied colleagues pulled away from Hugh J. Boyd Jr. Elementary School and made a quick stop to the beach. We wanted to see firsthand what Sandy did. There were a lot of sighs as we approached – police tapes were all along the washed away boardwalk. We drove away proud to have done our small part to help with the recovery efforts.
Verizon Foundation, Verizon Leadership Development Program, Jersey Cares, Sandy, Seaside Heights