Most of the time in the nonprofit world the sponsor-sponsored relationship is fairly sterile. Sponsors give money, sponsored organizations put sponsor’s names on t-shirts and banners.
Not so with City Year’s and Comcast. Comcast, one of our national sponsors, does more than just supply us with funds. Comcast takes a personal interest in the work the corps members do, from organizing “life after City Year” program days where they review resumes and offer tips on finding a career to partnering with City Year for what is arguably one of the largest projects of the year: Comcast Cares Day.
This year, Comcast Cares Day encompassed tons of people, both City Year corps members and staff and volunteers from Comcast, all working to change the environment of McClure Middle School into one that is more enjoyable for the students to work in.
When we walked in the door at McClure we could see why they wanted our help. The halls were lived with deep red brick and brick, while pretty in theory, ends up actually being a little dark when they line a hallway with black lockers. As a teacher told us, whenever the skies were grey outside the brick made it just as depressing inside.
So the plan? Paint the bricks white. All two stories of the school, including the stairways and the gym, and just to make sure that it didn’t look too much like a hospital when we were finished throw in thirty or so murals for good measure. But that wasn’t all that we had planned for this project. We also decided to paint some of the older rooms, make benches and bookmarks for the school, add in some gardens and mulch to areas around to the outside, and go ahead and paint and repair the nearby community center
It was a huge project! Not only did we have to prep the school for painting, taping and tarping and priming the brick walls, we also had to outline the murals, and get all of our supplies to the school and organized. And we had to do all this while school was still in session and students were running all around us. It was fun explaining to the students who came up to us what we were going to be doing for them on Saturday, but there was a pressing thought in the back of all of our heads. Would we really be able to get all of this done in one day?
There was so much to do… how were we going to get it all done?
But the next morning I was interrupted in the middle of setting up my paint station by the announcement that there was breakfast available in the cafeteria. Now, nothing is quite as energizing for City Year corps members as the promise of free food and coffee (especially at 7:30 on a Saturday morning) so I, and everyone in my hallway, hurried on over.
But the sea of red that I was expecting was not what I saw when I entered the room. No. What I saw was a sea of blue- Comcast volunteers decked out in their signature shirts mingling with the City Year corps and staff that were beginning to flow in.
And for the first time, I realized that we were actually going to do this. It was going to work out.
And lo and behold? It did.