Employees at Cormetech spent two days in building exercises that promoted teamwork. Separated into different groups based on “personalities,” they answered questions that resulted in their receiving parts to girls and boys bicycles.
They then put these bicycles together, which also promoted team cohesiveness.
“This was our fifth year of doing a training and team-building week and it really feels like we have come full circle, as we not only learn something from the exercise here at Cormetech, but we are able to give back to the community that is so good to us,” said Cormetech Plant Manager Denise Rice.
She said it didn’t take long to decide where they wanted the bicycles to go. Several employees at the plant were affected by the April 27 storms, and Cormetech leaders knew there were many children who lost their bicycles in the tornadoes.
“We contacted the United Way, with whom we have had a great relationship for many years, and found that we could donate these bicycles to United Way, who would then get them into the hands of these children,” Rice continued.
Matt Ryerson, United Way vice president of Community Investment Strategies, then contacted Lisa Mantooth to see if she could pin down 20 children (10 boys, 10 girls) in need of these bikes. Mantooth serves as case manager supervisor for the Long-Term Recovery Organization.
“I knew that Lisa has direct contact with survivors of the tornadoes, and would be the best person to be able to find children who lost their bicycles in the storms,” Ryerson said.
Mantooth said since learning of the Cormetech donation, she has already identified many children who will receive the bicycles. In some cases, she said, the bikes will be given immediately to the parents to give to the children, while in other cases, the parents will store the bicycles for Christmas gifts.
“I have a pretty large database with families listed including their children and their ages, so knowing the size of the bikes and knowing the extent of damage with the families’ homes, I began contacting families to see if there is a need for a bicycle,” Mantooth explained.
Since receiving the bikes, Mantooth has already found homes for the 10 girls’ bicycles and four of the 10 boys’ bicycles. She has identified the other families for the remaining bicycles, and is in the process of contacting them, so each of the bicycles donated by Cormetech is already accounted for and will be in the hands of families soon.
“I had a mom in today who lives in the Willbrook subdivision, and she took a boy’s bike and a girl’s bike home with her for her children for Christmas,” Mantooth said. “The family did lose its bikes, and one was recovered, “but it was bent and warped, so there was definitely a need for a new one. These are children who are active, and in the past riding their bikes would have been a normal everyday activity. Getting these bicycles to them will assist these children in recovering to their ‘new normal.’”
Mantooth said she’s been touched by the thanks received by each of the families she has contacted. One family in particular has really made these donations special.
“They lost their home and are in the process of rebuilding, but since the storms one of their three daughters has become very, very sick and she will have to be getting additional medical care away from Cleveland very shortly,” Mantooth said.
“The girl had actually said to her mother the other day that she wished she had a bike because her bike had been destroyed,” she added. “She is one of the children who will receive a bike, along with her sisters. For this one little girl, it is a ray of hope.”
Both Mantooth and Ryerson said providing these “rays of hope” would not be possible without the support of the entire community, and in the case of these particular bicycles, without Cormetech workers wanting to help others in need.
“Cormetech is essentially serving as Santa Claus for 20 families directly impacted by the April storms who lost everything in those tornadoes, including toys,” Ryerson said. “These bikes will make wonderful gifts under the tree at the end of this very difficult year.”
He added, “To see one of our local industrial neighbors so committed to the recovery and welfare of our community is simply inspiring.”
Rice said she is thankful to United Way for the organization’s role.
“We feel great about it and you can see in our employees how much this has touched them just knowing they are helping these children,” Rice said. “We are a Challenger company for United Way for this year’s campaign and we knew that we could count on them to help us help others.”