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Hundreds work to spruce up community center
Part of 'Comcast Cares' event
Anthony Helms cleans the outside of a door at Bassett Community Center on Saturday while Marisa Womack wipes down the inside. The two were part of a group that gathered at the center as part of the clean-up sponsored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge as part of the annual Comcast Cares. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Hundreds of people pitched in Saturday to make the Bassett Community Center a more visually appealing place to be.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge sponsored the project as part of Comcast Cares, an annual event in which employees of the cable television provider lead service projects in places where the company operates.
In Bassett, volunteers tackled major projects such as landscaping, remodeling a weight room and washing windows. They also did “little things here and there,” according to Boys & Girls Clubs Executive Director Lisa Nunn, such as sweeping floors and picking up trash on the grounds.
The building is in good shape but needed “some TLC” (tender loving care), said Eddie White, president of the center’s board of trustees.
The work would have taken the center much longer to accomplish had it not been for the volunteers, said center Director Pamela Biggs.
Volunteers were rewarded with a barbecue luncheon and children’s activities such as face-painting and balloon art.
Their efforts, Biggs said, show “our community wants to have a community center and is willing to come out and do what needs to be done to make it a better place.”
Nunn estimated that at least 400 people participated in the project at some point during the day.
“It warms my heart” to see so much interest, Nunn said. “It’s amazing what they’re doing” to improve the center.
Among the volunteers, she said, were at least 50 Comcast employees and many club participants, as well as their parents, club employees and others who heard about the effort and wanted to take part.
While many were Bassett-area residents, volunteers came from throughout Henry County and Martinsville.
“I’m here to support our community,” Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins said as she got ready to do some painting. “I view Martinsville-Henry County as one community.”
Jerry Viers of Axton said he participated because it was “a good thing to do to help out the community.”
The center and the Boys & Girls Clubs are worthwhile because they give kids places to go “to keep them out of trouble,” said Viers, who helped remove old carpet and repaint the weight room.
One of the Boys & Girls Clubs sites is at Sanville Elementary School a few miles away from the community center. Because a consultant has recommended that the school be closed, the organization is looking for a new site for the club there, and the center is being considered, Nunn said.
That spurred the organization’s interest in sprucing up the center, she said.
Bassett Furniture Industries established the center in 1958 and ran it until the early 1990s when it was turned over to Stanleytown Baptist Church, recalled White, the company’s vice president of human resources.
Later, the church’s “ministry went in a different direction,” White recalled, and a nonprofit charitable organization, Bassett Community Center Inc., was created to oversee the center.
Some people have thought that the center closed, officials said.
Biggs said “we want to let people know that the Bassett Community Center is alive and thriving.”
Donations are welcome, White added, because “we very much want to see this community center be here” well into the future.
In the six years that the local Boys & Girls Clubs have been part of Comcast Cares, the company has contributed more than $88,000 in money and more than $8,000 worth of in-kind contributions — such as labor and materials — to projects spearheaded by the local clubs, according to Nunn.
Tim Martin, a Comcast employee from Bassett, also helped repaint the community center’s weight room. He said he thinks “it’s great” that the company takes an interest in community service.
“I’m glad we (employees) could help” improve the center’s appearance, he said.
Also as part of Comcast Cares, the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Teen Center and the area around Patrick Henry Elementary School and J. Frank Wilson Park, all of which are in Martinsville, were spruced up on Saturday.
But the community center was the biggest project, Nunn said.
Wherever volunteers worked, their efforts were sincerely appreciated, said Kim Buck, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs’ board.
“Community leaders can only do so much” to improve their localities, said Joe Bryant, the Collinsville District member of the Henry County Board of Supervisors. He installed sound equipment at the community center.
“It’s up to people like you,” Bryant told other volunteers there, to help local leaders take care of the community.
The community center project was “one of the biggest ones” being done across 38 states as part of Comcast Cares this year, said Tom Coughlin, a senior regional vice president for the company.
He drove from the regional headquarters in the Baltimore-Washington area to Bassett because he “didn’t want to miss it,” he said.
Two Boys & Girls Club members, Helen Nguyen and Alexis Adams, presented Coughlin with the clubs’ Blue Door Award, which is given to donors, volunteers and board members to recognize their dedication to furthering the club’s mission.