Monday, October 5, 2009

I Can! I Will! I Did!

Hands on Atlanta partnered with Newell Rubbermaid to bring a corporate work day to Cross Keys High School this past Saturday, October 3, 2009. The bright fall day was ideal for the project. Over 200 souls gathered around the flag pole in front of the school in the early morning cool.

I couldn't pass up the chance to pitch in at the school so I joined in. I wanted to help in any way I could but I also wanted to see who actually showed up and thought I might be able to recruit new supporters for the school.

I met Andi (thank you!) from our site bloggers for breakfast at Waffle House and we headed over to the school. I immediately ran into at least three "joe citizens" from Brookhaven neighborhoods who heard about the event from this blog and others and wanted to volunteer. It was very clear very quickly that it was going to be a good day.

The management contact for Newell Rubbermaid stood up on the flag pole dais to welcome everyone and to thank them. She also said it was her 1st visit to the school. She had arrived early to take a tour and, as she described it, was nearly moved to tears by what she saw. She said privately that Newell Rubbermaid could stay there working for a year and still not do all that was needed. She was proud of her company and its employees for volunteering to help on this day.

Our principal, Dr. McMillan, stood up and welcomed everyone by telling them how proud she is of her students. She told guests that, in spite of what they might see in the facilities, Cross Keys was blessed with great students and faculty members. She was particularly proud that over 100 of the students showed up on their own to help with the work.

I was blown away by the turn out of the students - with very few exceptions, they were there on their own. We are talking about over 10% of the student body showing up for manual labor on a beautiful October Saturday folks! Would another DCSS High School have this kind of turn out for hard labor? I don't know but Cross Keys sure did!

I talked to two students separately that both had traveled an hour by bus, train, and on foot to make the event. Many went to their own jobs after spending the morning working hard at the school. How impressive are these young people?

The folks running the project did an excellent job of identifying the projects, organizing the teams, and empowering the work on site. We cleaned gutters, installed concrete paver walkways (my back is still sore!), painted, beautified landscaping (including a butterfly garden), and installed storage solutions in classrooms and in the gym (it was Rubbermaid, after all!).

In addition to just making the place look a little better, the work as designed to help the students and faculty deal with the fruit salad turnover going on now during renovation. Many teachers have lost their rooms, storage, and their classes are sharing temporary space with others. The additional storage management solutions provided this day will be very valuable through the reno period.

A very inspirational day for me. As with every other interaction I have with the young people at Cross Keys, I was struck by their quality. We truly have some of the best at Cross Keys and they showed it once again on Saturday!


SongCue said...

Rubbermaid started near my hometown in Ohio. My dad was an engineer and, during college, they hired kids of employees to work in the factory for the summer. And the former CEO was a grad of my college, The College of Wooster. He and his wife have bulit wonderful facilities there. I'm proud of this effort at Cross Keys and, although Rubbermaid closed its original plant in Wooster, Ohio, I'm glad they're giving back to this community!

Anonymous said...

1) Kim's you're a hero.

2) 10% of a school's student body for a cleanup day in unbelievably positive!!! That's a huge number!

3) "She said privately that Newell Rubbermaid could stay there working for a year and still not do all that was needed."

Pat Pope, Ronnie Kitchens and Crawford lewis should be shamed to the point of resignation hearing a corporate executive say that about one of their facilities. But they don't get it, and they do not have the wherewithall to realize that the executive's remark reflects directly on the lack of competence of the DCSS Central Office and the Sam Moss Center.

Cerebration said...

Wow - Kim - just - wow!!! Makes me have tears of joy!!!

Kim Gokce said...


"1) Kim's you're a hero."

Not to be ungracious but I'll only take the title, "good neighbor." Using a pick ax and throwing a disc is a far cry from "hero." But thank you.

"2) 10% of a school's student body for a cleanup day in unbelievably positive!!! That's a huge number!"

I was in no way prepared for this - I was in awe for the entire day. It also made me feel like a real wimp to see their readiness to serve.

"3) "She said privately that Newell Rubbermaid could stay there working for a year and still not do all that was needed.""

She was visibly shaken and completely at a loss as to how the conditions could have been reached. I told her I had the same reaction a year ago and haven't been able to stop working for CKHS since.

andi said...

I could only stay till 11 but it was a great day. There were 2 former students that graduated the first and third year the school was opened. I loved seeing them talk to the current students.

Cerebration said...

Love these pictures, Kim -- a true portrait of diversity!

Anonymous said...

Kim, you are amazing!

The Cross Keys Foundation is a grass-roots organization formed by community members to benefit students of our local public schools. Our school population is one characterized by high poverty rates (80%+ "Title I" students), high numbers of refugee and immigrant families, and a high number of English Language Learner (ELL) students. This combination of factors create a gap in advocacy and makes the job of public education a real challenge for our schools.

You can read current and background stories about our high school at Community Radar®. You can help us by your donation, by volunteering your time, or by simply helping us spread the word about our amazing kids!

The Cross Keys Foundation seeks to organize volunteer and financial resources on behalf of our schools. Reaching out to the community at large is one of our key objectives. We are asking for your help in spreading the word about our schools and mission.

The Cross Keys Foundation is the result of a partnership between our Board and The DeKalb County Public Schools Foundation (DCPSF). While our Board provides the leadership and energy for the development and deployment of volunteer and financial resources for the Zone, the DCPSF manages the non-profit status of our efforts via their beneficiary tax exempt 501(3)(c) corporation. (read more)

Kim Gokce said...

@Anon: " ... you are amazing ..."

The kids of Oakcliff, Cary Reynolds, Dresden, Montclair, Woodward, Seqouyah, and Cross Keys are amazing.

I'm middle-aged, overweight, lazy, and under-employed. But thank you! And the URL is: Cross Keys Foundation.

We have online volunteer forms, online memberships, and online contributions up and running. Within 2 weeks or so, we'll have it setup so the online contributions go directly into our account at DCPSF instead of via my PayPal account.

Amounts as low as $1 are a blessing and welcome. If you can't spare a $1, at least share the good word about our efforts using this widget:

CKF - Tell A Friend

As we promote on our site, your good will is hard currency for us! Thank you, Anon.