Sometimes it’s the small things that count the most. A new coat of paint. A clean van. Freshly planted flowers. A hug. A smile. Full hearts — and recycling bins.
Over the years, Mary Jean Adkins has seen how far those small things can go on Comcast Cares Day. Mary Jean is the donor engagement director at the Marklund Wasmond Center at Little Angels, an organization in Chicago’s western suburbs that provides residency care for 57 children and young adults with severe disabilities.
In 2016, we marked our 15th anniversary of Comcast Cares Day. More than 100,000 volunteers now participate in the annual celebration of our employees’ year-round service, as well as many of our national partner organizations, like Easterseals, City Year, The Arc, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, National Council of La Raza and the National Urban League. The result has been an enormous impact on hundreds of local nonprofits like Little Angels.
Back in 2008, Little Angels hosted its first such event after a local Comcast employee was introduced to the center through a friend. It was an instant success.
“That first year went so well. We were so buoyed by not only the work we got done, but also just having that many people interested in helping us felt great,” Mary Jean says. “We were cleaning up that first day, and we were so excited that we started talking about the next year’s Comcast Cares Day. And it just grew from there.”
The 2017 event, held April 22, ranked as the 10th straight Comcast Cares Day held at Little Angels, with more than 75 volunteers participating every year. Typical activities include everything from landscaping, detailing vehicles, and painting the facility to cleaning wheelchairs, performing maintenance repairs, and giving residents manicures and massages. In addition, there’s always a big group activity — like the year we rented out a roller-skating rink.
“For years, we just always felt like the little engine that could, and we’ve been so touched that Comcast has taken such an interest and really helped make such a difference in the lives of our residents, their families, and our staff.”
Mary Jean Adkins | Donor Engagement Director, Marklund Wasmond Center at Little Angels
“One of the cool things about it is all the volunteers who come back year after year,” Mary Jean says. “It’s so touching to have them come back and see that they remember our kids. They’ll ask about specific residents, ‘How is so-and-so doing? Am I going to see her today?’ That is just so delightful for us.”
The partnership between Comcast and Little Angels has long since extended well beyond Comcast Cares Day. Comcast employees have served on the center’s board of directors, helped get Little Angels’ annual gala fundraiser off the ground, and participated as donors and volunteers year-round.
“We lovingly refer to the Comcast ripple effect at Little Angels,” Mary Jean says. “For years, we just always felt like the little engine that could, and we’ve been so touched that Comcast has taken such an interest and really helped make such a difference in the lives of our residents, their families, and our staff.”
To underscore the point, Mary Jean tells an anecdote about one resident who spent weeks working hard to sign his own initials, with the goal of being able to sign his own participation form on Comcast Cares Day. In 2016, he did it.
“We had a little crowd around him when he signed his waiver, and the whole room erupted in applause,” Mary Jean says. “It sounds like a small thing, but he was so proud. He had worked so hard. And he was just thrilled that everybody knew it in the room. For me, that was just a really warm, really exciting moment.”
Mary Jean pauses before continuing.
“And he’ll be signing his own form again this year.”
Number of estimated hours Comcast volunteers have donated to Marklund Wasmond Center at Little Angels through Comcast Cares Day since 2008
Flowers planted by Comcast volunteers in the Marklund Wasmond Center at Little Angels courtyards during Comcast Cares Day since 2008
Wheelchairs washed and detailed by Comcast volunteers since 2008 at the Marklund Wasmond Center at Little Angels through Comcast Cares Day
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