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Boots on the Ground in Dallas

On October 21, 2021, Team Care Force welcomed more than 60 Aramark employees to the Buckner Family Services Center, a faith-based nonprofit organization that provides services to vulnerable families and orphaned children, in Dallas, Texas. Our mission was simple: lead Aramark’s employees through a powerful day of service. However, the work to realize this objective was far from simple.

Team Care Force leads Aramark volunteers in PT.

As it does for every event, our work began long before we set foot on site. In this case, the event planning had started in January 2020 before being postponed due to the pandemic. When it was finally rescheduled, our team got to work finishing the frontend preparation we needed to be successful on event day. This included drafting important documents such as the Run of Show and project-specific facilitation guides, and sourcing the more than 300 pieces of lumber and two tons of rubber mulch required to complete the construction and landscaping projects Buckner had requested.

We arrived in Dallas four days before the event. On the first day, we picked up our rental vans, inventoried and then borrowed tools from a storage unit rented by City Year Dallas, and made the first of many Home Depot runs of the week. The next day, we were given a tour of the service site by Jordan Castle, Buckner’s Volunteer Coordinator, and began to prepare the four areas where we’d be leading service. Throughout the day, the sounds of trucks and power tools were not uncommon as Home Depot dropped off lumber and tools and TCF members used a variety of tools to battle the brush in a few project areas. On days two and three, we turned our attention to cutting wood. The sound of saws again filled the air as we marked more than 300 pieces of wood and made no fewer than 1000 cuts. After cutting, we sorted the wood into kits to be delivered out to their project sites and spent the remainder of the day going over logistics with Hugh Harlow, our Event Manager for the week.

TCF members measure, mark, cut and kit wood in preparation for the event.

Event day arrived in no time, and it was inspiring seeing so many volunteers turn out to donate their time to a cause greater than themselves. By the end of the day, volunteers had transformed four regions of Buckner’s campus that collectively serve over 450 community members. Our accomplishments from the day included:

  • Adding 24 yards of rubber mulch and a new barriers to a previously overgrown and unusable playground
  • Rebuilding and repainting an older wooden playhouse
  • Constructing six new picnic tables and repairing and reinforcing four existing ones
  • Revitalizing and repainting an outdoor classroom built during a previous Care Force event
  • Constructing two bag toss sets and two 2×4 stack games for kids and families at Buckner to use
  • Building two new wraparound benches
  • Tamping down new DG (decomposed Granite) on the path to the playground and in a roundabout in the center of the facility
  • Cemented an existing Free Little Library into the ground
TCF member Allison Anderson and volunteers from Project #3.

After a moving Closing Ceremony in which we got to hear from members of the Buckner staff and community about the impact of our work on residents, the volunteers departed and our team set about cleaning up and putting the finishing touches on projects. Three hours later, we said our final goodbyes to the staff at Buckner and headed back to the City Year Dallas storage unit to drop off the tools we borrowed.

TCF and Event Manger Hugh Harlow pose for a post-event photo.

The next day, we returned our rental vehicles and boarded our flight back to Boston. Overall, this was an unforgettable event for all involved, not just because it was our first time leading volunteers in-person, but because of the opportunities we had to learn about Buckner’s impact in the Dallas community and beyond. Buckner is a longstanding partner of both Aramark and City Year, and we hope that this relationship is able to be sustained far into the future.

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