Thoroughbred Volunteers strengthen community ties with home spruce-up event
Armed with paint brushes, hammers, shovels, and other tools, Norfolk Southern employees gathered on a Saturday morning in late April to participate in a community “give back” event called Paint Your Heart Out.
Each year the Rotary Club of Portsmouth, Va., enlists volunteers from corporate and city government groups to help disadvantaged homeowners in that city’s neighborhoods spruce up their properties.
Members of the Norfolk chapter of Thoroughbred Volunteers – NS’ formal employee volunteer program – have participated in the program for about a dozen years as part of the company’s commitment to support the communities it serves. In previous Paint Your Heart Out events, Thoroughbred Volunteers have replaced roofs, rebuilt porches, removed debris, and cut down trees.
This year, a team of 17 Thoroughbred Volunteers, family, and friends spent the day painting, repairing porch railings and windows, spreading mulch, and planting flowers for an elderly homeowner in Portsmouth.
“It’s not just painting,” said Jim Welch, senior general foreman at NS’ Lamberts Point coal terminal, who has participated in the annual project for 12 years. “We’ve left something a lot deeper. We’ve made it a safer environment for the homeowner and we’ve done something to help somebody live better.”
The NS volunteers spent time planning and making preliminary repairs on the house several weeks in advance.
“Being railroaders, we look at it from a safety aspect,” Welch said, ticking off a list of potential safety issues they observed, including rickety porch railings, an awning that leaned, and a back porch consisting of slabs on concrete blocks. He and five other Lamberts Point employees spent free time repairing hand rails, replacing the concrete blocks and slab with a small deck, and performing other maintenance to improve the house’s livability.
“It was basically a remodel of the exterior of the house,” Welch said.
Other Thoroughbred Volunteers joined them the day of the event to apply a fresh coat of paint, trim bushes, spread mulch, and plant flowers. Aaron Bondurant, supervisor purchasing in sourcing, and Kerry Long, medical case coordinator in human resources, coordinated the event for the volunteers. Both serve on the Norfolk Thoroughbred Volunteer Council.
“The homeowner is thrilled,” Bondurant said. “The house really looks beautiful.”
NS has become one of the event’s major corporate sponsors.
“We go above and beyond what is typically required,” Bondurant said. “It shows we care and see the value in the community prospering.”