Comcast Cares Day is always an adventure. I was up at 4 a.m. and headed to the airport for a 6:35 a.m. flight to Detroit to volunteer at an amazing organization called Focus: HOPE. Founded by the visionary community activist Eleanor Josaitis 42 years ago, Focus: HOPE provides educational tutoring and mentoring for area children, sponsors career training programs, and has given more than 20 million packages of food to neighbors in need.
We began our day in Detroit at Focus: HOPE with an exercise program led by enthusiastic City Year corps members. There were over 200 volunteers present, including many members of our management team. Dave Scott, his daughter Hannah (she is a Comcast Cares Day veteran), Ken Carrig, Tom Nathan, Scott Bailey, Peter Kiriacoulacos, the volunteers and I joined an exercise with City Year's corps members. It was a little cool and damp, but there was excitement in the air.
We had a short program, which included City Councilman Andre Spivey, who presented a Detroit City Council Resolution proclaiming April 24, 2010 "Comcast Cares Day" in the city. Councilman Spivey recalled fondly his early years spent participating in programs at Focus: HOPE. We made brief speeches and presented a check for $25,000 to Eleanor Josaitis and executive director William Jones. They were ecstatic and there was a sea of blue Comcast Cares Day shirts, which was just beautiful.
We closed out the program and began proceeding to our work stations. Then, State Senator Martha Scott rushed in and we reconvened briefly. Senator Scott presented proclamations to Comcast and Focus: HOPE.
It was back off to work where I helped in the food pantry, filling food baskets with a variety of healthy foods. U.S. Congressman John Conyers later joined us and presented a proclamation to Eleanor and paid tribute to Comcast for its CCD efforts. We were also joined by some former Comcasters, including Diane Dietz, who joined in the work and the revelry. Then it was on to Chicago...
The Yancey Boys and Girls Club in the Englewood area of Chicago recently reopened, and it has been a magnet for young people in the neighborhood. The building had been abandoned some years ago, and it was in need of refurbishment. There were at least 150 volunteers present. They were scraping paint and prepping interior and exterior walls for painting, and others were painting, landscaping, planting flowers and mulching.
We then gathered the group for a special presentation. U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush and State Representative Kenneth Dunkin were present as we presented a grant of $25,000 to the Boys and Girls Club. They plan to create a computer lab and buy computers with our gift of $25,000. Our techs also wired the building for cable, phone and internet and wired a room that will be used for the computer lab. Comcast is going to provide one year of free service for the Club, which of course was greeted with wild applause from the children, their families and board members.
A couple of years ago, I visited my hometown, Houston, Texas, on Comcast Cares Day. I was moved beyond words as I watched the long line of people standing in the hot Texas sun to collect the bags of food that we were packing for them. The experiences in Detroit and Chicago also moved me beyond words.
Of course, any experience like this makes you contemplate and count all the many blessings you have in your life. I very much appreciate all of the Comcasters, their family members and our non-profit partners who took time out of their busy lives to work with us on Comcast Cares Day. This was a day well spent and you really made a difference in the lives of those in need.