By Laura Rogers
For the past 14 years, Comcast employees have been giving back to their communities in what has become the single largest one-day corporate volunteer effort in the country. Deemed Comcast Cares Day, the volunteer day rallies together not only Comcast employees, but many of their friends and families as well, making it a fun and meaningful event for all.
Over 3,000 people participated in Comcast Cares Days across 12 Washington cities this year. Over the years, the hours of service have really added up to big change. Since 2001, 600,000 volunteers have contributed 3.7 million hours of volunteer work on 6,000 projects across the country. Volunteers have tackled everything from painting, building, gardening, installing computers, and beyond.
This year, The Firs was selected for Whatcom County’s Comcast Cares Day, which took place on April 25. The Firs has been holding summer camps on the shores of Lake Whatcom for over 80 years. They also serve local families with their Before and After School Adventure at The Firs programs. While much of the volunteer work focused on improvements to camp structures and grounds at The Firs, some Comcast employees helped out at the concurrent event: Superhero 5k Run/Walk: Because Every Kid Deserves a Hero beginning at the Bloedel Donovan Gymnasium. The proceeds from the Superhero Run/Walk go to creating scholarships for The Firs.
Children, adults, and even dogs, decked out in their best superhero garb, lined up at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday for the superhero fun run. It was a wet morning, but the rain didn’t appear to change a thing. Creatively donned runners, including a whole family of Batman’s, several very authentic-looking Wonder Women and bright tutus and capes galore filled the parking lot at Bloedel Donovan. Participants’ enthusiasm seemed untouched by the questionable weather. Comcast employees showed up early, handled registration, and organized participants.
Event Organizer and Director of After School Adventure at The Firs, Stacy Smith, explained that with this run they “wanted to have a way to help families that fall just below or just above the poverty line, who weren’t able to have experiences like quality after school care or summer camps. There’s a gap for kids who can’t be involved in activities. And kids who are less involved are less likely to finish high school or go to college. In our programs we really try to give them fun clubs like dance, running club, and all kind of activities. Our tag line is: Because Every Kid Deserves a Hero. We believe heroes come at camp. We can be very intentional and available to the kids here.”
Meanwhile, over at The Firs camp, Comcast employees and their friends and families were getting several major projects under way. Large apple trees were being trimmed, and the trimmers themselves were getting somewhat of a shower due to the wet trees. But spirits remained high.
Around the corner, there was beauty bark being spread by a team of dedicated adults and children. A painting project was continuing despite the rain because of a lucky four-foot overhang on the building. Back in the forest, chainsaws were whirring, getting all the trees trimmed up, and firewood cut. It was a very busy place. All in all, about 150 volunteers shared their Saturday at The Firs. As a result, several large projects were completed.
It was an even more special work day for a few Comcast employees who grew up attending and working at The Firs.
Steve Gardner, Communications Technician for Comcast, fondly recalled, “I grew up going to Geneva Church, just around the corner from The Firs and attended Fir Creek Day Camp the first year I was old enough, which was in the early 1970s. I then went to Camp Firwood through middle and high school and returned in my late 20s as a counselor, head boat-driver, and waterfront and activities director. My camp name was Knievel….back in the day,” he says with a laugh. “When I heard that Comcast was going to be at The Firs, I thought, ‘I gotta do that.’ When my boys are old enough they’ll be going to camp here too.”
April is volunteer month, but The Firs is always looking for volunteers for a wide variety of tasks. You can get involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.