Comcast Cares Day has become an annual tradition here in Washington state, and across the country. Over the last 18 years, this day of volunteerism has resulted in more than 1 million volunteers have contributed over 6 million service hours to improve local communities nationwide
On May 4, 2019, the annual event brought together Comcast volunteers from the Aberdeen office who worked alongside community members and the team at McCleary Veterans of Foreign Wars 5564 (VFW) to work on various projects at the post and within the city.
The main project of focus this year was restoring the VFW building’s exterior. It was identified and proposed by Jay Biggs, McCleary VFW commander and advanced services tech at the Aberdeen Comcast office. As standard procedure, each year Comcast representatives ask their employees if they know of any non-profit organizations in their respective communities who are in need of support. Each project is then taken into consideration before final decisions as to which will be chosen for the day of service are decided upon.
At first glance, it was apparent that the McCleary VFW Post’s main hall was in desperate need of some attention and immediate reconstruction. After officially being chosen as one of the 2019 Comcast Cares Day projects, a complete analysis of the tasks at hand were taken into account. Removing a brick fascia and leaking exterior walls were the first priority as well as replacing them both with updated materials. The main hall of the VFW is the post’s only source of income, as the space has also historically served as a place that the community can come together and rent out for various purposes. This made this project especially important and impactful for the local military Veteran community.
An assessment of the completed work performed by the 113 volunteers after the event showed that all of the old brick had been removed, as well as the center wall section of the building. To make use of the old bricks, cleaning work began so that they could later be reused to build a patio or fireplace at the back of the facility.
Another task that was taken on during Cares Day was improving Beerbower Park located across the street. Piles of wood chips were delivered and spread out by hand by a total of 40 volunteers, including many children.
“Improving the exterior of the structure, building a patio or fireplace and increasing the safety and presence of the nearby park all help to increase future rentability at the McCleary VFW Post,” states Muffett Krussel, Comcast site coordinator and lead for the McCleary project. “The spreading of chips was a really great opportunity to let the children be involved and feel included while they participated in a safe activity.”
In addition to the many volunteers, which included more than half of the Aberdeen Comcast employees and VFW members on site, Mrs. America participants were present to lend a helping hand. The three ladies showed up ready to work clad in their blue Comcast Cares Day t-shirts topped with pageant sashes.
“What was really exciting about these three Mrs. America participants helping out was that all three of them had personal ties to the military,” explains Muffett. Mrs. Grays Harbor, Brandy Jo Ross who lives in McCleary, dedicates her time to many charitable causes and has close ties to the McCleary VFW. After hearing about Comcast Cares Day, she reached out to Mrs. Pierce County, Ronda Johnson-Dove, whose son is active duty in the U.S. Army, as well as Mrs. JBLM, Mindy Dunn, who is an active duty Army Officer and dual military wife. Both of them enthusiastically agreed to participate in this great local cause for the military community.
The day before the main day of service there were several activities, as well. 100 kids and volunteers from the McCleary School District gathered to work on various projects provided by Comcast. This included making cards, creating thank you posters to hang in the VFW hall, and writing words of encouragement, some of which got passed on to active service members. The Aberdeen Comcast employees also worked to assemble assistance kits that would later be distributed to homeless veterans.
After the event officially came to a close, Muffett could easily see that the VFW members were reinvigorated. “During the event, one of the members began digging through an old closet to help further clean up the facility,” explains Muffett. “I believe that this project helped lift their spirits and bring new life to the members and community as a whole.” During the event, VFW members were already planning future work parties to complete additional projects, such as a new coat of paint, and maintain the hard work that had been put into the facility.
“As the Commander of the McCleary Post 5564 VFW,” states Jay Biggs, “I would like to say thank you to all the volunteers, Comcast employees, and VFW members for the improvements to the building. The brick wall was falling apart, a hazard, and an eyesore. Everyone who drives by can appreciate the efforts to maintain a nice appearance for our buildings in our small town.”
Since its inception in 2001, Comcast Cares Day has empowered its employees to pinpoint issues that impact the communities that they live in. This was exemplified this year by the hard work that was put into improving the safety and appearance of the McCleary VFW Post, as well as neighboring park. It could not have been done without the gracious support of everyone involved from throughout the community.