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Economic Development
Oct 22, 2014

Suggest A Project For Work On Wilmington

Sponsored Content provided by Connie Majure-Rhett - Former President and CEO , Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

Here’s your chance to make a difference. A simple suggestion from you can have a significant impact for one of our area schools or non-profits. All we need from you is an idea and a little follow-up conversation on your project idea.

One of our favorite Wilmington Chamber Foundation events each year is Work On Wilmington (WOW), an annual day of volunteer service that will next be held on Saturday, April 25, 2015. The Leadership Wilmington class organizes the event and, on average, more than 1,000 volunteers roll up their sleeves and dedicate a half-day to tackling more than 30 projects at area schools and non-profits across New Hanover County. WOW provides all the labor and the materials. It’s the best deal around!

The projects are wide-ranging and impactful. Volunteer activities during the annual WOW events held since 2006 have included adding 100 feet of boardwalk at Cape Fear Center for Inquiry; the Friends School Courtyard Beautification Project; painting the fence and adding shell walkways at the historic Bellamy Mansion; lot clearing and landscaping for the Good Shepherd Center; hanging tiles in a downtown parking deck for the City of Wilmington; clearing overgrowth from a historic cemetery; refurbishing landscaping and adding shrubbery and picnic tables at Roland-Grice Middle School; building fences at the New Hanover County Arboretum; rock repavement of the driveway and parking lot at The Open Gate Domestic Violence Shelter; and dozens more.

Each year local companies provide teams of employees to work together on projects. Volunteer success is made possible by more than 70 area businesses and individuals who provide materials, services and financial support. For example, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, a major sponsor of this event, routinely provides more than 500 volunteers who have revitalized the campuses of Wrightsboro Elementary School, Hoggard High School, D.C. Virgo Middle School, the Jo Ann Carter Harrelson Center, and the Brigade Boys & Girls Club of Wilmington, among others. Their activities alone have included such enhancements as laying new carpet, constructing a playground, revamping a baseball diamond, major interior and exterior painting work, and extensive landscaping.

It is estimated that at each annual WOW event, more than $130,000 in free labor is provided by the volunteers who participate. The average price of a project in 2014 was $2,800. WOW has spent in excess of $250,000 in direct cash expenditures over the last four years on these local projects.

Each of our WOW projects is planned for months in advance. Because many hands are collectively working on the day of the event, projects that would often take months to accomplish are completed in just four hours. Work On Wilmington grew from an idea presented by GE Hitachi in 2005, and is a now the institutionalized annual “give back” from the Leadership Wilmington class. Work On Wilmington, now in its ninth year, has become the capstone of the Chamber Foundation’s leading program – Leadership Wilmington.

Work On Wilmington is organized each year by the current Leadership Wilmington class. The 10-month Leadership Wilmington program consists of an orientation, a two-day retreat to begin the program, eight all-day sessions, Work On Wilmington, and a graduation ceremony. The all-day sessions occur once a month from September through April. The components stressed throughout the program are: leadership skills/styles; community issues and challenges; the dynamics of regional social and economic change; diversity; and the class project – Work On Wilmington. If you are interested in joining Leadership Wilmington 2016, applications will be accepted during June 2015.

For now, we need your help. We need project ideas for Work On Wilmington 2015. If you know of a non-profit (no churches please) or a school that needs a little of the kind of work some of our energetic, talented, high-spirited volunteers can help to complete, please visit www.workonwilmington.org to submit a proposal … or simply encourage administration at the organization to submit one. Potential project sites will be visited by a Leadership Wilmington class member, assessed and presented for consideration at a project review meeting. The process is competitive. Typically 50 to 60 proposals are received and about half make the cut. Those that have applied in the past and weren’t chosen are welcome to apply again.

If you have questions, please contact Haskell Rhett at 910.762.2611 ext. 204 or [email protected].

The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce is the largest membership-based business association in Southeastern North Carolina. The Chamber’s mission is to ensure economic prosperity throughout our region. This is accomplished by: creating a diverse, inclusive organization that serves as a strong voice for businesses in the Greater Wilmington area; offering unique membership benefits, services and education; and challenging government officials to address long term community and business interests.

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