More than 400 local volunteers crowded Sarah J. Rawson STEAM Elementary School in Hartford Saturday morning, eager to “make change happen” through collaborative projects at the 16th annual Comcast Cares Day.
In the spirit of Earth Day, some volunteers planted trees and landscaped the grounds, while other volunteers inside the Holcomb Street school built tables in the robotics room, made minor repairs in the sensory room and cleaned and organized the library, among many other tasks.
On Saturday, Comcast also held six other Connecticut events in Groton, New Britain, New Haven, Stamford, Waterbury and West Hartford. Officials said more than 700 volunteers participated across the state during Comcast Cares Day.
Tony Werner, president of technology and product development for Comcast Cable, said Connecticut’s annual support has been “overwhelming,” adding that his group places an emphasis on philanthropy because it brings communities together.
“It feels great to give back to communities that we serve and do so much for us,” Werner said. “You can leave and really see that you’ve done something tangible—you’ve improved a school or area of town. It’s heartwarming.”
Comcast surprised the school with a $25,000 check at the end of the event. The donation is just one part of more than $20 million the organization has given to the communities it serves through Comcast Cares Day since the initiative began in 2001.
Werner says the contribution—and Comcast’s volunteer presence in Connecticut—exists thanks to more than 1,300 employees in the state, their large customer support and area institutions.
“Connecticut is an important part of the overall Comcast ecosystem, and it’s exciting to be able to show them that we do care,” he said.
Dave Watson, the newly appointed CEO of Comcast Cable, said the event has grown each year as organizations like United Way, the Urban League of Greater Hartford and others have joined Comcast’s 50-year commitment to volunteerism.
Since Comcast was founded in 1963, Watson said the business has been run locally and stresses the important of public giving.
“We need to give back to communities. We feel it’s fundamental to our culture and who we are,” he said. “We have students that are out there helping, shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners and with our employees. We think that’s exactly the right way of doing this.”
Several Comcast executives from the Philadelphia corporate office joined Werner and Watson at Hartford’s Comcast Cares event, including Rick Lang, executive vice president of sales and marketing operations, Bill Strahan, executive vice president of human resources and Marcien Jenckes, president of advertising.
— Comcast New England (@ComcastNewEng) April 25, 2017
Rep. Douglas McCrory, representing Hartford, Bloomfield and Windsor, was also on site, hyping up the crowd before a day full of giving. McCrory recognized several Rawson graduates in the crowd who are now employed by Comcast.
Also lending support at the New Haven Comcast Cares Day site was Jennifer Heath, president and CEO of United Way of Greater New Haven. Heath listed giving, advocating and volunteering as the main pillars of philanthropy.
“United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability for every person in every community, and we’re proud to work alongside Comcast to deliver on that,” Heath said. “Comcast Cares Day is special because it mobilizes the community around important projects in neighborhoods that need it the most in our region.”
Founded in 1999, the Comcast Foundation has donated over $195 million to organizations nationwide. Meanwhile, contributors of Comcast Cares Day—established in 2001—have provided more than five million volunteer hours toward 7,700 projects.
If that’s not impressive enough, in 2017, Comcast expects more than 100,000 volunteers to participate in almost 1,000 projects they organize around the world.