Many hands made light work as 400 volunteers descended on Kathryn Hughes Elementary School–brooms, rakes, shovels, hex keys, sand paper and roller paint brushes in hand–to give a colorful facelift to the campus on Comcast Cares Day, April 30. By noon, the volunteers had tidied up, weeded, planted vegetables, assembled 66 computer chairs, made repairs and painted everything in sight.
Hughes Principal Terri Morrow was so moved that tears came to her eyes as she spoke to the volunteers–all wearing bright green Comcast Cares t-shirts–at the 8:15 a.m. kick off ceremony.
“This is overwhelming. I’m really thankful and grateful for all of you. You’re really amazing,” Morrow said.
Comcast Cares Day, which began in 2001, is the largest, single-day corporate volunteer event in the U.S. In 2015, about 100,000 Comcast NBCUniversal volunteers tackled more than 900 projects in 22 countries.
Statewide this year, about 5,000 volunteers visited seventeen sites, including two in Santa Clara County– Frost Elementary in San Jose and Hughes in Santa Clara. Hughes was nominated by Comcast employee Jeff Palega, whose daughter, Jahlia, is a Hughes kindergartener.
“This is my favorite day of the year. The whole force of Comcast is behind this day,” said Hank Fore, Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Comcast California, headquartered in Livermore. “The Comcast rally cry is ‘I love my job!’ And part of why I love my job is because I volunteer. This day epitomizes the concept that ‘I am Comcast.'”
State and city elected officials and Santa Clarified Unified School District (SCUSD) members helped kick off the event.
“You’re being activists today by standing up for your community,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stanley Rose.
California State Senator Bob Wieckowski presented Comcast with a certificate “In recognition of your outstanding contributions and dedication in bringing communities together in the spirit of service and volunteerism.”
“This makes you proud to be part of the Comcast family,” said Community Investment Coordinator Lori Herington.
Anna Ko, representing U.S. Congressman Mike Honda, presented Hughes with a Certificate of Recognition. SCUSD Board President Alberto Gonzalez, trustee Jim Canova and City Councilmember Kathy Watanabe made brief remarks before volunteers spread out across campus to tackle their assigned tasks.
Volunteers included the SFCA Tongan Take (an LDS church), Homesteaders 4H Club, Cub Scout Pack 323 and Hughes parents and students. All extolled the benefits of helping others.
“Helping other people will help my children be more responsible,” said parent Vanessa Esguerra, painting trash cans blue and gold with her two daughters.
“I want to help repaint the school because the basketball court is messed up,” said 5th grader Cydney. Her father, Bruce Ventura, and his colleagues from Innovative High Technology, San Jose, had recently rewired the school’s two computer labs.
“This is my last year here, and I want to make it better for all the kindergarteners who are going to come here,” said 5th grader Ethan, rolling orange paint onto the playground surface.
“It’s rewarding to see that you’re able to help somebody. It’s exciting,” said Comcast administrative assistant Nadya Smith, who started volunteering when her now 16-year-old daughter was seven.
“This is an awesome opportunity to work with the community and help kids,” said Comcast technician Cesar Martin.
“Today is a great opportunity to come out and fix up an older school, and Comcast is a great corporate partner,” said Watanabe as she picked up trash in a black plastic bag. “It’s a win-win situation and a great way to give back to the community for Comcast.”
Principal Morrow teared up again, saying, “I’m so grateful and blessed to be part of the Hughes community. The kids are going to be so excited when they see everything Monday morning. I’m overwhelmed by the fact that Comcast chose us.”