Volunteer spirit in full force with Great Days of Service

By Todd Cline
Gwinnett Daily Post, September 28, 2011

Renee Carter will be at the Hi-Hope Center in Lawrenceville on Friday. But it will be more than a short visit.

She'll be there with 60 to 65 of her fellow employees from Primerica, ready to put in a full day's worth of volunteer work in the name of the Gwinnett Coalition's Great Days of Service.

"Every year our employees look forward to volunteering for this event," said Carter, program and events coordinator for Primerica. "Some people actually come in on their off day to do it."

This year Primerica's efforts will be focused on the Hi-Hope Center, and mostly on outdoor work. It is a scene that will be repeated around Gwinnett County on Friday and Saturday as local companies and individuals participate in the organized volunteer effort.

While the help makes a huge impact on local non-profits – "The things it might take them a week to do only takes us a day," Carter said – it also has resonated with the employees of the companies who participate. After all, it's hard not to bond with co-workers while you're working side by side.

"It's almost like a complete company team-building event," Carter said. "We make sure all departments are represented, because everyone wants to participate."

Primerica provides special T-shirts for the occasion and Carter said a DVD of the day is usually made. Volunteerism is encouraged at Primerica, Carter said, with each employee receiving eight hours of comp time to help a nonprofit. But Great Days of Service, with its local impact, has become special to the company.

"It's special to us to be able to help out right here in Gwinnett County since this is where we're located," Carter said of Primerica, which recently announced it will house its international headquarters in Duluth.

Carter, who lives in Norcross, said her job helping her organize Primerica's efforts gives her a fun perspective. She does site checks and enjoys the chance to see the before and after of the company's efforts.

"I really like to be there at the end to talk to the people who are going to be impacted by our efforts," Carter said. "The employees look so forward to it. At the end of the day they are dead tired, but it's a good tired, like you have done something. There's a sense of accomplishment."

If you're interested in experiencing that feeling, it's not too late. Some groups are still in need of help for this weekend. For more information call 770-995-3339.

Email Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.