CTC, GE Aviation partner for third annual Community Day –
By Patricia Beech –
Over 500 volunteers rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty in an effort to help beautify several local sites across Adams County.
Student volunteers from the Ohio Valley Career and Technical Center partnered with GE Aviation employees for the third annual Community Day on Friday, May 11.
Principal at the Ohio Valley Career and Technical Center, Jason Vesey, oversees the school’s participation in the annual service project.
He says one of the things that makes the day-long event special is that the students get to use the skills they’ve acquired in their specific programs at the career center.
“Today we’ve seen many of our kids doing work they’re training for every day and putting it to use for the community,” he said. “That’s a tremendous testament to our staff and the kids at the CTC.”
Vesey also calls GE Aviation an invaluable partner.
“Since our initial Community Day, our students have had the opportunity to work alongside GE employees,” he says. “That validates the work they’re doing and creates a bridge between career, tech education, and industry.”
The Tom White Memorial Motorsports Complex at the Adams County Fairgrounds was one of 11 sites where volunteers worked. The complex hosts both tractor pulls and demolition derbies during the Adams County Fair.
Brad White, Ag Mechanic instructor at the CTC and son of the late Tom White, supervised student volunteers as they removed the old bleachers from the motorsports arena. He said working with GE employees during Community Day was “a good experience for the kids”.
“A job of that magnitude couldn’t be done without boots on the ground and a little bit of blood, sweat, and tears,” said White. “The fact that the GE employees were there doing something to help the community and taking the time to talk with the kids meant a lot to me. They asked the students what they were working on in school and what their plans were for the summer. They not only helped to do the job but they took extra time to spend time with the kids.”
Other volunteer projects for the day included: repairs and painting at the Seaman Village Park; landscaping at the Adams County Regional Medical Center; preparing the Community Garden at the Wilson Children’s Home; landscaping and mulching at the Adams County Courthouse; and landscaping and preparing the pantry at the Interfaith House in West Union.
“It’s really fun when you know you’re going to help the community out,” said CTC student McKenzie Swango, who spent the day working at the Interfaith House in West Union.
“It feels good to help people,” she said. “And it really makes you feel good about yourself too.”
Peebles Test Operation Administrative Assistant, and Coordinator of the GE volunteers, Leeann Puckett, said partnering with the CTC “is a rewarding experience” for GE personnel.
“We get to go out into the community with the kids and see them using the skills and the knowledge they’ve acquired,” she said. “As an employer, we’re always looking for potential employees – it helps fill the gap between technical school and industry. For us, it’s a great day to give back while working with the students to help all the people in the community.”
According to Puckett, GE Aviation employees volunteer 165,000 hours per year.
Here, a joint effort among GE employees and students from the OVCTC means a new set of bleachers will greet visitors at the Tom White Memorial Complex at the Adams County Fairgrounds.
“At GE Aviation in Peebles, we try to do our part, especially by working with the schools on stem projects and science, but we also focus on general knowledge and working to help kids. Our role is to be at each location to work on mentoring partnerships and improving the community.”
After completing their service projects, the volunteers were fed lunch at the Adams County Fairgrounds. Featured motivational speakers for the event included: former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Browning; current Cincinnati Bengal Bobby Hunt; and GE employee Antonio Randolph.
In addition to the GE and CTC volunteers, about a dozen county businesses and organizations participated in the day-long service event including: the Adams County Health and Wellness Coalition, the Adams County Economic Development Office, the Adams County Commissioners, Adams County Common Pleas Judge Brett Spencer, the Adams County Medical Foundation, and Ryan Wealth Strategies, LLC.
Debbie Ryan, coordinator of the Adams County Creating Healthy Communities grant and the Adams County Safe Communities grant, said the event is also focused on encouraging people to be more active.
“We partner with the technical center and GE Aviation projects that are particularly relative to active living,” she said. “Projects like new playground equipment in the Seaman Park, installing bike racks, and getting the Winchester Community Garden beds ready for planting all help promote living a healthier lifestyle.”
ACOVSD School Board member Charlie Bess said she believes Community Day serves a two-fold purpose.
“It gives our kids an opportunity to give back to the community, but it also gives the public the opportunity to see that kids still care and they feel good about themselves when they’re able to do a project like this,” Bess said. “It builds the kids up and teaches them how important giving back to the community is.”
Bess says she believes the volunteers set an example for the entire community.
“We all know this community is going through some hard times, and it’s going to take everyone pulling together as a whole when we lose DP&L,” she said. “Projects like this help to instill in young people the importance of being aware of what’s going on in their community, it teaches them collaboration by working with the GE group, and it teaches them that sometimes in life we need to partner with other people, and if you’re willing to work hard, a lot more people will get on board to help with projects like this.”
“I think its invaluable, educationally as well – the kids learn a life lesson you can’t get just from a text book,” Bess continued. “It needs to be hands on, going out, doing it, and working with others and seeing how they react to their work. When the kids see the people’s excitement for the project and the impact it makes, it’s a positive all the way around.”
CTC Assistant Principal Frankie Stephens said he hopes to see the program continue to grow.
“This is the first year we’ve gone outside the West Union area on Community Day,” said Stephens. “We were concerned about making it work, but it’s worked out very well and people have responded very favorably to the jobs our kids have done today.”