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Corporate Voluntarism Finds Welcome Outlet in Sea Bright

One of the Jersey Shore’s most beleaguered boroughs gets a boost in rebuilding from scores of volunteers…none of whom are in the restoration business, but all of whom share the can-do spirit that has brought the beaches back from Superstorm Sandy.

AT&T Volunteers Erect Dune Fences in Sea Bright (Ellen Webner)
AT&T Volunteers Erect Dune Fences in Sea Bright (Ellen Webner)

AT&T sent 90 of its executives and staffers to the oceanfront where they spent the day reinforcing dunes and installing new dune fencing. The work is one of 84 Sandy Day of Caring projects spearheaded by Jersey Cares and the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.

Regional Vice President for External Affairs Charlene Brown was among those moving hundreds of pounds of sand from a sea wall. She says the company’s culture of voluntarism springs from a commitment to quality of life among its workers.

“We live here. Our customers are here,” she says. “This affords us a chance to give back.”

Charlene says that employees are encouraged to take part in a wide swath of causes, and it broadens them as individuals while giving them fresh perspectives on the meaning of their work.

“In some cases, depending on what the volunteer effort is, you actually get an opportunity to do things that you’ve never experienced,” she says.

A year ago, some 500 workers spread out across all nine deeply impacted counties. None of it is lost on Frank Lawrence, Sea Bright’s volunteer coordinator.

AT&T Volunteer Clearing Sea Wall in Sea Bright (Ellen Webner)
AT&T Volunteer Clearing Sea Wall in Sea Bright (Ellen Webner)

“It’s been very difficult for the towns to recover,” he says. “Small business has been able to reopen but they are struggling, since so many homeowners haven’t been able to return. Here in Sea Bright, about one-third of our homeowners still can’t come back.”

Lawrence says that financial aid from large corporations, along with technical equipment and help, is still desperately needed. “Really, anything to help small businesses get the help they need with incurring additional expenses.”

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