Facilities Staff Spruces Up House in Volunteer Effort

Employees cleared brush and planted trees Saturday for local non-profit

About 20 Facilities Management staff and their family members helped beautify a home in Durham's Walltown neighborhood March 15 as part of a community service project with the Doing Good in the Neighborhood campaign.

Volunteers tilled soil, tore down old fences, cleared dead brush and planted a variety of trees and shrubs at a new home on Berkeley Street known as the "Rutba House," built for the School of Conversion. The local non-profit, founded by a pair of Duke Divinity School graduates, uses the house to build community with formally homeless members of the Durham community.

Above, Mark Crute, an electrician with Facilities, and his wife, Beverly, plant a young shrub in a freshly tilled front yard. Volunteers spruced up areas all around the house, installed almost 2,500 square feet of sod and also hauled off old wood and wired fence. Before the March 15 workday, several Facilities staff painted inside the house, refinished donated furniture and also donated money to the Doing Good program.

"Doing something like this makes you feel good at the end of the day," said Keith Guile, a Facilities' grounds supervisor who helped organize the volunteer day.

Below, Facilities staff rake freshly tilled soil in front of the house before planting about a dozen bushes and trees. Lee Clayton, a locksmith with Facilities, said he and his son, Chase, wanted to help out because it was the right thing to do.

"I wanted to show my son that volunteering and giving back is a good thing," Clayton said. "When someone asks you to do something that will put a smile on the faces of others, it's important to just do it."

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, director of the School for Conversion, which works with Durham youth, formally incarcerated men and women and other at-risk communities, said he was thankful for the variety of services Facilities staff offered.

"Facilities Management was a huge help in making this new Rutba House possible," Wilson-Hartgrove said. "We're all deeply grateful."