BB&T Lighthouse project

Bank responds to call with project to help Boys & Girls Club

A BB&T employee digs out the edges of what will become the beach volleyball court at the Boys and Girls Club of Blount County.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

A BB&T employee digs out the edges of what will become the beach volleyball court at the Boys and Girls Club of Blount County.

Unveiling improvements made possible by BB&T employees are, from left, Bill Pyle, Sonya Platt, Rosemary Jennings, Michelle Davis, Rachel W. Warren, Keith Edmonds, Dean Deatherage, Amanda Horn, Michelle Hankes and Regina Jennings.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Unveiling improvements made possible by BB&T employees are, from left, Bill Pyle, Sonya Platt, Rosemary Jennings, Michelle Davis, Rachel W. Warren, Keith Edmonds, Dean Deatherage, Amanda Horn, Michelle Hankes and Regina Jennings.

The completed beach volleyball court and a sand box are prepared for play at the Boys and Girls Club of Blount County.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

The completed beach volleyball court and a sand box are prepared for play at the Boys and Girls Club of Blount County.

Boys and Girls Club of Blount County members will have more opportunities for fun and a more appealing place to play thanks to efforts of a group of BB&T employees and their corporate CEO.

The employees were participating in a corporate project to help the communities the bank serves. Employees gave their time and effort to build a new volleyball court, a new basketball court, paint and to plant shrubs and flowers at the Boys and Girls Club on Currie Ave.

Sonya Platt, branch manager at Townsend, said associates at BB&T got the idea to help the Boys and Girls Club when they learned of some of their needs from United Way of Blount County CEO and president Michelle Hankes.

“We looked at all the different organizations,” said Platt. “Keith Edmonds surveyed the needs they had, and we drew up a plan.”

Edmonds, a relationship banker at the Alcoa branch, said helping the Boys and Girls Club helped not only the club members but their families. “They provided us with the best opportunity to help the most people,” he said.

Platt agreed, “They service Alcoa City, Maryville City and Blount County schools,” she said.

Edmonds said the BB&T company president and CEO Kelly King wants associates with the bank to reach out and make a difference in the community.

There are six BB&T branches in this area. “Once we saw what we had to work with, we set it up and tried to get donations. We found donors and places to give discounts. We tried to buy from businesses that give back to the community,” Edmonds said.

The BB&T associates got an extra bit of incentive from King to do good in the community. “We had a meeting with our employees,” Edmonds said. “Our CEO gave each employee two hours with pay to help.”

Platt said they wanted to help upgrade or add to the facility in ways that flowed with what they have now at the club. They built a new basketball court and a new volleyball court that can be used year around.

The associates also beautified the facility with a fresh coat of paint and new landscaping. “Just improving the curb appeal by pulling weeds, putting new paint up and revitalizing it will make it more appealing,” Edmonds said.

Several of the banks clients helped out with the project. BB&T either received discounts or they were donated items they needed. They also received free labor in getting the groundwork prepared for the volleyball court.

Among the companies and individuals who assisted were:

n Anderson Rental donated use of a Bobcat skid loader

n Jeff Garrett of Volunteer Turf drove the Bobcat and readied the volleyball court

n Jay Frankenfield of Burgess Falls Nursery gave the volunteers a discount on flowers and shrubs

n Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse gave discounts on a variety of supplies

n McCall Construction gave a discount on sand they also delivered

n Kellems donated mulch and topsoil

n East Tennessee Pavement donated labor for building the basketball court

The project is part of what is called the BB&T Lighthouse Project on the local and corporate level. In a May 15 letter to BB&T employees, CEO King outlined the vision for the BB&T Lighthouse Project.

“I am sure each of you has been confronted with the challenges as a result of our country’s economic stress. I have always strongly believed that the best way to remain positive and enthusiastic during distressing times is to focus on helping others,” King’s letter said.

“I’m excited to introduce the BB&T Lighthouse Project. We are allocating approximately $3 million bank-wide to allow you the opportunity to help others in your communities. The concept is simple: Be involved, be out there and make a difference. Now is a great time to focus on the needs of others and to live up to our mission of making the communities we serve a better place to be.”

King encouraged the banks to work in teams and to agree as a group what community projects to support. He told employees that the initiative was about more than just making donations.

“While simply writing checks to worthy causes is commendable, it’s not the idea behind the BB&T Lighthouse Project. You’ll be given a meaningful amount of money, and I want to see everybody out there working in the community.”

King was enthusiastic about the program and explained the symbolism behind the Lighthouse Project.

“I believe this is a way for us to live our mission, help our communities and have fun at the same time. Remember, in the midst of storms, lighthouses cast beams of hopeful light to anyone that might be in distress.”

King gave a deadline of September 30 for each bank to complete the Lighthouse projects. BB&T employees worked a quick pace to identify, coordinate and complete their projects locally.

In June employees formed teams and brainstormed on project ideas. By June 30 the teams had to submit Lighthouse Project ideas to their corporate/divisional Lighthouse Committee members. July 31 was the deadline for corporate/divisional Lighthouse Committee members to approve the project ideas.

During the month of August, employees began working on their Lighthouse projects and lighthouse construction. Sept. 30 was the deadline for completing all Lighthouse projects.

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