Helping Hands: AT&T employees reach out to DC school [AT&T Government Issue]
by Hope Katz Gibbs
AT&T Government Issue
AT&T’S CIVILIAN MARKETS COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT Committee knew it wanted to reach out locally—but whom could it best serve?
National Account Manager Gwen McLaughlin had passed Stevens Elementary School, a public school located in the heart of the Washington business district near AT&T’s offices. She noticed the trim on the building could use a fresh coat of paint, saw the flower boxes were filled with weeds, and wondered what else needed repair.
McLaughlin suggested to the committee that Stevens might be a spot to focus its attention. The members agreed, and McLaughlin called Principal Gloria Henderson.
“Do we need help? We sure do,” said Henderson, who was down seven teachers and considerable funds this year due to budget cuts. “I have a laundry list of things that need to be done.”
Among them: painting lines on the school parking lot, weeding and painting the flower boxes and repairing a broken gate.
“Gwen presented the school wish list to the committee and we agreed to proceed ‘ “ said Natalie Latney, chairperson of the CMARKS Committee. “We expect to have a partnership with the school that will last for a number of years due to Gwen’s efforts.”
On a steamy August day, about a dozen AT&T volunteers showed up to paint, replant, and make repairs at the Stevens School. Armed with paintbrushes and paint paid for by AT&T fundraisers, National Account Manager Ralph Geltz led the brigade.
“Everyone saw the value of what we were doing,” said Geltz. “It’s wonderful to have a school in the community where we can make a difference and then see the difference.”
In September, about 10 more AT&T employees showed up to paint a huge map of the U.S. on the playground.
“Everyone keeps running onto the map and jumping to different states and trying to name the capitals,” said Janai Marshall, 11, president of the sixth-grade class. “The best thing about the map is that it helps out with social studies-especially at test time. We all love it. It was really nice of the people from AT&T to do this for the school.”
More than 20 AT&T employees have already signed up to tutor the students. Spanish language workshops and a chess club are in the works. Employees are also donating board games, sporting equipment and software.
“I think this volunteer effort is very important because we can have an impact on these students,” said project co-champion Skip Hedgepath, an AT&T national account manager. “We meet them at an impressionable age, between four and 11—a time when they haven’t been exposed to a lot of the bad things peer pressure can bring. In working with the students, we stress the basics: stay in school, learn to read and write, be creative with painting, music and dance. These things will help in the long run.”