This was our second conference that offered the opportunity to help the local community and work with sponsors, home office personnel and other advisors. The task is not only rewarding but working side by side with people who you’ve known for years in a different way is enlightening to say the least. I’m sure that many people already considered me crazy but video of me chopping roots in Samurai fashion will probably confirm that!
Here is my account of our day:
Thirty of us that included about 15 reps, 10 SSN employees and 4 Sponsors arrived by bus at a Denver neighborhood Magnet School that will open for the first time in two weeks. We were addressed by the head of the school who was so happy to have our help in constructing TV stands, organizational racks and decorations. During my many escapes from the heat, I watched Jay Patel and Ron Klimas busy putting together things with elaborate instructions. Thank God for detail people! Tess led a group of talented and creative women in a project to create colorful giant flowers that hung from the ceiling. They looked amazing!
Our group of fifteen was given the task of re-attaching the netting to the enclosure and three individuals quickly volunteered and were off to their work. The remaining group was told that nearly 20 tall, overgrown bushes blocking the view of the playground had to be removed root and all. OK, we thought, that’s no problem for a bunch of eager and hardworking weekend warriors. Where’s the chainsaw? Sorry no chainsaw allowed. Ok how about sharp saws? Sorry none of those either. Instead, just shovels, rakes and a few pruning shears. How would we ever complete this task??
After an hour we had removed several plants but realized that the roots wouldn’t budge. Quick thinking Greg Kalosieh enlisted the help of one of the staff and their truck and began to literally pull the bushes from the ground. Our group that included Doug Baxley, Jim Berrier, General Wade Wilkinson, reps Bob Esposito and Jason Hand used hand tools to slowly pry the roots from the ground.
I think the day was best illustrated by the attitude of our President (General) Wade Wilkinson who was unwilling to leave one stubborn root in place for another group to tackle after we left. Well after everyone was already exhausted, Wade summoned our group to go back after a root that would not be beaten. While complaining that better tools would have simplified the task, Wade motivated the likes of Greg “the Hulk” Kalosieh, Bob Esposito, Jason Hand and myself to finally pull the root out to loud but exhausted cheers. Let’s not forget, Keith from NFS who was bloodied from the first moment of the job and had significant wounds covering his body. He showed us how NFS will go the extra mile for us even if it means getting a little bloody.
In the end, all of us felt a sense of accomplishment for a job well done. What did I learn? That Doug Baxley, my compliance guru, would show up in sandals to chop tree roots! So much for OSHA!
If you have any questions on how you can help next year in the Jacksonville, Florida area with our next project, feel free to contact me or Tess Frear at SSN.
Jay L. Gershman is a representative from Connecticut with 20 years with SSN.