Grand Circle Associates Serve Students and Seniors
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Grand Circle Associates Serve Students and Seniors

Associates Give Generously of Their Time in Two Separate Annual Service Events

The active community service team at Grand Circle's Boston headquarters participated in two events recently, brightening lives in their community at both ends of the age spectrum, from kindergarteners to seniors.

Rebuilding a School, Rebuilding Hope

Rebuilding Together Boston (RTB) is the local chapter of the nation's largest volunteer nonprofit that helps repair and restore homes and nonprofit facilities in an effort to stabilize Boston neighborhoods. Every year, Grand Circle selects a single site for refurbishment during the one-day event. This year, that site was the Parkside Christian Academy, which serves 150 inner-city Boston students from pre-school to 9th grade.

Held on April 30, this year's event marked the 18th consecutive year that Grand Circle has participated in the annual event to improve the neighborhoods of the city, making it not only the Foundation's biggest company-wide service event, but also its longest-running. More than 140 associates, friends, and family members turned out on a Saturday to help improve the learning environment of these children. They were joined by 15 parents and other volunteers from the school.

"I was concerned that we didn't have a homeowner with a story," says Nicole Braley, Grand Circle's Vice President, Traveler Support and co-chair of the event with Jim Cummings since 2006. "I wasn't sure that people would get the same sense of accomplishment. But 15 parents and other volunteers from the school showed up. It really helped people connect."

By the end of the day, the volunteers had painted 20 classrooms, two hallways, and two after-school rooms, and completely transformed the teachers' lounge and cleaned out the lockers. Outside the school, crews removed a very large old wooden playground, planted flowers, put down 30 bags of mulch, and replaced two exterior emergency exit doors. "I'm always amazed by how much gets accomplished," Nicole says. "I look forward to it every year."

Serving Seniors a Heaping Helping of Caring

Just one week later, on May 7, a team of 13 Boston associates gathered support Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly. Founded in France in 1945, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly is a nonprofit, volunteer organization dedicated to providing companionship, support, and caring for the elderly and to connecting them with the larger community. The organization opened its doors in Boston in 1979.

Grand Circle Foundation has partnered with the Boston chapter of Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly since 1994, donating a total of $148,500 to the organization. A highlight of that partnership is an annual catered Mother's Day lunch for low-income women, many of whom are without families to help keep them from loneliness.

As always, this year's event was held at the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly facility in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. Volunteers from Grand Circle picked up 25 elderly women in the company van and transported them to the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly building, where other associates were busy setting tables and preparing to serve their guests.

The decibel level rose as the associates and their guests sat down together to share laughter and conversation over a meal of ziti with chicken and broccoli, dinner rolls, and Caesar salad. As Dave Lubchansky, Grand Circle's Vice President, Traveler Relations, played lively renditions of popular old-time favorites on the piano, coffee was poured, and a dessert of cake and fresh fruit was served. "Dave's 'lounge act' is always a big hit!" laughs Donna Clark of Grand Circle's Group Sales department, who chaired the event.

Finally, the Grand Circle van was pulled up to the door to carry the guests of honor home. But first, each of them was given flowers and a gift bag of homemade cookies and brownies that had been baked by other Grand Circle volunteers prior to the event. The rest of the Grand Circle crew performed the clean-up and went home satisfied that they had brought joy into the lives of seniors in their community.

"It's so great to see the smiles on these ladies' faces," says Donna. "To me, that's the ultimate reward."

Featured in our May 2011 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.