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THEY ARE SPECIAL(IZED) VOLUNTEERS

Justin Thompson was one of the 168 Comporium employees who used vacation time to turn Carruthers Cottage into a learning center at York Place in York on Friday. York Place is a residential treatment center for kids.
Justin Thompson was one of the 168 Comporium employees who used vacation time to turn Carruthers Cottage into a learning center at York Place in York on Friday. York Place is a residential treatment center for kids.

YORK -- Ice storms and other weather disasters have taught Comporium employees how to handle emergencies.

It involves organization, establishing a chain of command and teamwork.

Thursday and Friday, they used that same military-style organization approach to help with renovations at York Place, a center for emotionally disturbed children.

About 170 Comporium employees on their own time took shifts over a 24-hour period from 3 p.m. Thursday to 3 p.m. Friday to help with the project.

Dozens of Comporium trucks were parked on the York Place lawn, and workers were scattered across the property, digging holes, tearing down walls and slashing brush with a machine they call "The Monster."

When employees signed up for the project, they listed their skills, so when they arrived they were divided into appropriate teams.

"We make a graph so we know exactly how many people are going to be here and at what time," said Kenny Clark, facility supervisor for Comporium.

During the time at York Place, volunteers renovated the Carruthers Cottage, tearing down walls and old bathrooms and installing new plumbing, wiring and walls for a learning center. They also planted trees and shrubs around a water retention area by Kings Mountain Street, cleared trees and brush around a pond and set poles for a barn structure.

Clark stayed for the entire project and did not get any sleep Thursday night as he and the crews worked by the light of stringed bulbs.

"It's hard work, but we have a good time," Clark said.

This is the second year Comporium employees have done a project such as this. Last year, they worked at the Worthy Boys Camp.

Thursday evening, the crews got to eat with the York Place children, and Comporium gave all the youths white plastic helmets.

The kids are the reason employees do this, Clark said.

"We're trying to make it better for the York Place and a safe place for the kids they care for here," he said.

David Simril, vice president for facilities and construction at Comporium, helped with demolition, framing and sheet rock in the Carruthers Cottage.

The project was successful because of the support from local businesses, he said.

"We contacted a number of suppliers and distributors of material and equipment for this job, and every one of them donated," Simril said.

Donations included everything from lumber and Sheetrock to plumbing and electrical materials.

Comporium began talking with York Place about the work months ago, said John Shiflet, York Place director.

"It sounded like a good thing then, but we could not conceive just how tremendous this is," he said. "They have invested a tremendous amount of money and manpower to get this done for us."

The support from Comporium and the businesses who donated supplies means a lot, Shiflet said.

"We just feel like everything we do here has been validated by a lot of people, and that they appreciate the service we provide children and their families throughout South Carolina," he said.

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