Mayor Wayman Newton describes Tarrant as a city on the move. Much of the activity he’s referring to happens at the City of Tarrant Recreation Center – sometimes in the form of dance classes and basketball tournaments, but also, in a broader context, as a place that fosters a growing sense of community.
Mayor Newton said that the rec center welcomes everyone, which turns out to be about 3,500 participants a month. The center recently hosted a team from Mississippi for a basketball tournament, but it’s also a site for dance competitions, opportunities for seniors, arts programs and a weekly aerobics class.
“It’s truly a multi-generational, multi-faceted facility, and that’s what we wanted it to be,” he said. “It’s our goal to make this the heartbeat of the city.”
Realizing that goal, in part, involves teaming up on a service project with United Way Hands On (United Way of Central Alabama’s Volunteer Center) and the Drummond Company, Inc. Volunteers recently painted the entryway and foyer of the rec center as part of a longer-term project to refurbish and refresh the facility.
“We’re very grateful for our community partners Drummond and United Way,” said Mayor Newton. “We have a lot of kids that come here. So, it’s one thing for kids to see an entryway painted 15 to 20 years ago. It’s another thing to see something with a fresh coat of paint, an updated look. It just makes you feel good. Hopefully, it’ll make them feel good about themselves.”
Obviously, the citizens of Tarrant are the primary beneficiaries of the refurbishing project; but the volunteers from Drummond benefit from the experience as well.
After working on half a dozen of these types of projects through the years, Dean Bishop, Vice President of Operations at Drummond’s ABC Coke Division, can attest to its meaning.
“We support organizations monetarily, but it doesn’t ring true with you, doesn’t stay with you, like actual hands-on experience,” said Dean. “You remember these things. You don’t remember all the money you’ve donated over the years. You remember when you go out, put your hands on something and got dirty for the community. Especially when you know it’s appreciated. That’s a big part of it.”
Not to mention, what’s good for the community is also good for the company culture. Coming together outside the office to achieve a goal unrelated to your regular job responsibilities encourages employee engagement, cooperation and team building.
“Our employees have more fun on these types of projects than at any other events we host,” said Dean. “Some of these people I never see unless we gather in these types of settings. We talk on the phone, we email, but we really don’t spend face-to-face time other than here. So, it’s good internally as well as for the community.”
Through the years, Dean has watched the projects he’s worked on through Hands On come to fruition in different neighborhoods and cities. Every time he drives by a playground he helped assemble or a building he helped paint, it reminds him of the combined effort of community members, employee volunteers and Hands On that helped make a vision come to life.
“Hands On has been so important to always provide the continuity between the community and the companies,” said Dean. “I recommend it to everyone. I guarantee you’ll get a lot more out of it than you think — just in the gratification and the ability to know that you’re helping the community…you’re giving back.”
To learn more about how you or your company can get involved with volunteer efforts through United Way Hands On, fill out a Corporate Volunteer Request Form.