Volunteers repaint McClure

"How many times can you say in your lifetime that you were able to paint on the walls at school and have the principal say thank you?" asked Simon Amiel, executive director of City Year in King County.
There wasn't a hallway clear of paint cans, plastic coverings and blue tape at McClure Middle School in Queen Anne on Saturday, April 24. Comcast employees, community members, City Year and KIRO-7 volunteers pulled on their work jeans and tees for the national Comcast Cares day of service to spruce up McClure-painting the interior hallways, building new benches and bookshelves, tidying flower beds and laying new bark.
Comcast Cares is a day for Comcast and its employees to show that they are invested in the communities they serve. This year, the corporation had 550 sites with 57,000 volunteers throughout the U.S. participating in the service day. Comcast Vice President David Cohen, who joined the painting party at McClure, estimated the volunteer hours would total about a quarter of a million nationally.
Comcast also provides a grant to a local organization that is involved in the day of service at each of the sites. In Seattle, the $25,000 check was packaged in an old paint can and given to the Alliance for Education, a partner of Seattle Public Schools.
"Even though it's a national program, it's really locally driven," said Cohen. In the past, Comcast has re-wired school computers, helped landscape parks and supported food banks with their volunteers, based on what each community needs. For McClure, the company hosted a social-media training for school staff in addition to the painting and sprucing up. During the session, staff discussed privacy issues and case studies on the use of social media by teenagers.
The planning and making it all happen is organized locally as well; McClure PTA member Candi Nickelson was part of that process.
"There's been this huge momentum at McClure for the last three years," she said. The school community has been slowly renovating the building-painting the walls was one of the final projects, she added.
City Year, a national organization with a branch in Seattle, was heavily involved in the process as well. The 'core members' of City Year are young adults from 17 to 24, who give a year service in a school as an additional resource to keep kids from dropping out.
For Comcast Cares, City Year members spent the prior Thursday and Friday evenings priming the walls and laying tarps for Saturday's effort, working in the empty halls until 9 p.m. each night. Adam Nance, Development Director of City Year of King County, said the organization logged six days and hundreds of hours of total preparations.
"There has been a lot of graffiti on the walls -- they weren't in good shape," said Ross Buchanan, one of the City Year core members who helped prep the building. "It's going to look much cleaner, more professional, [and be] a better place to learn."
Cohen said, "The students who left here on Friday will come back on Monday and are not going to recognize it." Because of the budget cuts many schools have faced in the last several years, Cohen estimates about 75 percent of the service sites this year are schools.
Buchanan said the added benefit is that kids who return to a revived school feel the impact the service has on them and may be more likely to volunteer their time to help others in the future.
"It's establishing the habit of doing service work, and to get people used to it and to let them know that there's plenty of volunteer opportunities out there if they want them," Buchanan said. "I think a lot of people would like to do service work but just don't know where to look."[[In-content Ad]]