Feb. 28, 2006 – "I'm overwhelmed, I'm grateful, and I truly thank God for everything that's been given to us today," Buelah Wilson, co-founder of the Nana Baby Children's Home on St. Thomas, said Sunday, as she and more than 100 executives from some of the nation's biggest technology firms worked side by side to rehabilitate the facility from top to bottom.
The goal was accomplished in just three short hours, as the group – comprised of executives from technology giant Ingram Micro and its leading manufacturing partners Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, and Lexmark, along with several local volunteers – repainted the home inside and out. Volunteers also installed a swing set and basketball hoop, landscaped the property and built a storage room to house the food, clothes, and books donated by the community.
The various companies also put up more than $37,000 worth of corporate and individual donations, which will go toward purchasing, among other things, a generator and four computers for the facility, which provides emergency foster care to children from three days old to 12 years old.
"We've always had a lot of needs," Wilson said. "Usually we get a lot of donations from the community, but we really could use the generator and computers for the kids who live here, to help them with their school lessons. It would be excellent to have all these things, and I'm really moved that this group is trying to get them for us."
Local companies also donated to the project, Marcia Willet, senior director of corporate events at Ingram Micro said Sunday. "Tommy Brunt and the team from MSI donated $20,000 worth of materials for the project, while Bryan's Plants and Garden Supplies donated all the landscaping material we're using. The V.I. government also waived all fees for the building permit for the storeroom so this is really a huge effort between our community and yours," she said.
Prior to arriving in the territory via cruise ship, representatives from Ingram Micro worked with members from Island Meetings and Incentives and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands to identify and coordinate the project, Willet explained. "This whole thing is part of an incentive trip Ingram Micro sponsors for its customers and employees every year," she said. "On each trip, we do something for the community that we're staying in, and prior to coming here this year, we bought about $30,000 worth of supplies to get this thing done."
The group has come to St. Thomas on two prior occasions, renovating both the Bethlehem House and Unity Lodge. "We have many incentive groups," Willet said. "And all of them are involved in community activities – we think it's great that we're able to leave something behind when we go somewhere."
"And we feel fortunate that we can come, visit another environment, and touch the community," added Greg Spierkel, chief executive officer of Ingram Micro Worldwide. "This foster care facility doesn't get much assistance, and we're trying give them whatever we can and have a little fun doing it," he said with a smile, dancing slightly while a DJ turned out tunes like "Love Shack" and Kool and the Gang's "Celebration."
Workers around Spierkel were dancing as well, and Willet was singing as she walked around the property to supervise the various groups. "Oh, we're having a great time," she said later in the morning. "It's a beautiful day, a beautiful island, and we're so happy to be here."
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