Mission Accomplished

You may have seen the Facebook post and album dedicated to this event, but if not, here's the story:

A couple months ago, a man by the name of Jim walked through the sliding doors of the main entrance and asks about service projects. It turns out that Jim is the District Manager for Publix and they have a service day coming up in which they can mobilize 30 volunteers to help on projects for several hours. Additionally, they have a budget so they can provide the materials for the project.

Our jaws pretty much hit the floor. After all, it is not every day that a man offering 30 volunteers and financial resources just appears and asks about doing a "transformative" project. Needless to say, we indicated that we would be very, very willing to have his group come to Hi-Hope and help out.

Pretty much from the start we zeroed in on two projects: (1) general landscaping around the main campus that needs to happen several times a year, but is contingent upon a large group coming to help and (2) continuing the painting project we started in January with volunteers from Georgia Power. In January we completely stripped and repainted Room 1 in the administrative building. A simple coat of paint transformed the room into a fresh, vibrant space. We now had the opportunity to do the same in additional spaces, but we would only have one day to complete anything we started.

Logistical reasons limited our access to Room 2 and the old UCP room, but that is still a huge undertaking. The project included prepping, stripping, cleaning, taping and painting two coats in two large rooms. To make sure we could get it done, Keith, Nick and a small volunteer group from Oglethorpe University's Alpha Pi Omega Fraternity prepped the rooms a few days in advance.

On the day of the project, Publix did not disappoint. A store manager from the Publix on Sugarloaf was on site before Hi-Hope even opened. The oversaw the delivery of all the paint, painting supplies, mulch, pine straw, landscaping equipment and food (more on this in a minute) while Hi-Hope staff got to sit back and do almost nothing. They divided into an outdoor landscaping team and an indoor painting team. The indoor group needed almost no instruction and immediately set about painting the rooms. The outdoor team was similar, going above and beyond by weeding the lawn, flowerbeds and planters and by landscaping areas we never expected them to address. For example, without being asked, they completely cleared out the small, fenced-in yard next to the UCP room, making it a viable space for all kinds of future projects. They also prepared all the gardening plots so Pat could start our annual vegetable garden with much less extra effort.

At 1:00 PM the group to a break and surprised our individuals with a huge cake, cookies, and beverages, compliments of a fantastic Publix bakery. Everyone - individuals, staff, and volunteers included - enjoyed the treat together.

About an hour later, a dedicated group of store managers did spot checking in the two rooms, cleaned up everything and departed, donating a ton of leftover paint, brushes and painting trays for future projects. In a matter of hours, they came, completely changed the campus and then disappeared without leaving any indication that a group of 30 people had been there all day. It was amazing. Volunteer Coordinator Nick Reynolds said, "this was one of the most ambitious and transformative single day volunteer projects we have done in my time with Hi-Hope and I barely had to do a thing. I hope they come back...soon!"

A couple of days later Jim stopped by to make sure we were happy with the work. A family emergency had prevented him from coming and he wanted to make sure we were satisfied with the work and had a good experience. We couldn't begin to express how thankful we were for his team's efforts. In their mission statement, Publix commits to be "involved as responsible citizens in our communities." Based on our experience, we can confidently (and gratefully) state "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!"