Day of Service Connects Bank Employees to Nature and Each Other

| Category: from the Board

By Christine Chandler

In the depths of winter, sometimes all you need is a warm memory to remind you that spring is not all that far away. It was just a few months ago that I joined 24 other t-shirt clad volunteers from M&T Bank to participate in a Day of Service at Great Kids Farm. The participants were diverse, including those just coming from their night shift in the Lockbox department, folks from the branch network, technology services and a large contingent from M&T Realty Capital Corporation, the multifamily mortgage banking group. 

Upon arrival we met under the shade of a large oak tree for an introduction by Farm Manager Matt Dobson. Matt started the day by giving an overview of the farm's history and sharing stories about the students' experiences. Afterwards, he led us on a walking tour of the grounds and the group got an up-close introduction to the chickens, roosters, and turkeys. Matt explained that the farm was preparing for the addition of several goats and sheep and that is when we learned about the project at hand. Matt shared that without protection, the animals are sometimes visited by unwelcomed visitors, including fox and deer. To that point, it was announced that the M&T donation helped purchase materials for the construction of a fence to help protect the farm animals.

Volunteers were able to choose from the following activities: clearing the overgrown weeds, seedlings, vines and other brush that needed to be collected for a future controlled burn; helping to build a fence (e.g., dig holes, mix concrete and set the posts); or assembling workbooks for the students. 

After splitting into three groups, we collected our tools from the shed - chainsaws (only operated by farm staff), shovels, picks, wheelbarrows - and most importantly gloves! The day allowed employees to build networks, develop growth among departments and demonstrate great teamwork. There was a lot of sweat, and fortunately no tears! We laughed a lot and enjoyed camaraderie. 

After several hours of hard work, the group gathered in the main building for a team lunch and concluded the day with the group's choice of mini lectures - one demonstrating how to make a raised bed garden and another in the greenhouse providing information on how to properly use containers for seedlings and transferring to either gardens or larger pots. 

What a wonderful way to spend a Friday. We'd love to do it again!