Last Saturday, April 26, was a beautiful day for a walk in the park. But rather than just walk through, hundreds of volunteers decided to clean up and restore one area park.
About 300 Comcast employees, their families and other volunteers gathered to work on a number of service projects at the Medal of Honor Grove at Valley Forge National Historical Park, including painting the basketball court, cleaning up debris from this winter’s ice storms, planting trees and mulching.
The projects at the grove were a part of Comcast Cares Day, an annual community service event organized nation-wide and internationally by the company to provide employees and their families and friends a chance to give back to their communities. Globally, this year’s event involved an estimated 80,000 volunteers working on over 800 projects in 39 states and 12 countries.
Locally, Comcast’s employees in greater Philadelphia chose the Medal of Honor Grove in part as a nod to the numerous veterans who work for the company, who have recently formed a network. Comcast worked with the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge to find out what needed to be done at the grove.
“Having started our veterans’ network in 2012, we’re trying to keep this going,” John Titus, Vice President of Operations and a retired Navy veteran, said as wood chippers and chainsaws buzzed loudly in the background. He added that community engagement is one of the group’s major focal points.
“We’re developing a partnership with the Medal of Honor Grove and the foundation to continue with smaller projects throughout the year,” he said. “Hopefully we’re building relationships, and what better way than honoring our Medal of Honor recipients?”
Vets weren’t the only ones getting involved in the service projects, though. The employees were joined by friends and family and even some JROTC cadets from Martin Luther King High School in Philadelphia. And many of the employees involved were locals.
“I have my family here and I live 15 minutes down the road, and it’s great for teaching the yougsters the importance of giving back,” said Jeff Alexander, Vice President of Public Relations.
Children were able to build birdhouses and hang them in the grove, since many of the grove’s previous birdhouses were knocked down and destroyed in this winter’s storms. That project gave the kids a tangible connection to the park that they could come back and see and showed them how they contributed.
And because Comcast’s projects are so localized, Alexander said many of the employees appreciate that the event gives them the opportunity to serve their own communities.
He also pointed out that the nice weather helped to lift everyone’s spirits, too. But mostly, volunteers were just happy to be giving back.
“The energy has been so positive. Just to be out together, to be out in the community, it’s a really great day,” he said.