Making Your Mark:13News Now helps out during #MDDAY

13News Now LaSalle Blanks has the story

NORFOLK, VA (WVEC) -- They say never let them see you sweat on TV. But, when it comes to volunteering to help fix-up the William A. Hunton YMCA on East Charlotte Street in Norfolk, members of the 13News Now team didn't mind.

We traded in our microphones and cameras for paint rollers and power washers to help spruce up the outside and inside of the  privately-owned YMCA that workers say, often gets overlooked for funding because it's not affiliated with the national chain of YMCA's in many communities.

The William A. Hunton YMCA is on East Charlotte Street off of Tidewater Drive near downtown and it serves as a safe place for kids to play, learn, and get support and encouragement to pursue their dreams.

It offers security to parents, like Tineshia Pinkney. She has seven children who attend the Hunton Y.

"When I go to work, I don't have to worry are my kids alright?" she said. 

Thanks to Make A Difference Day, they can now better serve the educational needs of the children. 13News Now volunteers rewired and rehabbed the computer lab. It now has better internet and WiFi to help them with their homework and keep up with other kids who have access to computers at home.

"We can't thank you enough," one staff member said as she walked into the computer lab to check on the progress. "I don't want to cry."

Other staff workers got emotional when they went outside to see Brad Jones from Speed Pro Imaging and David Thornton from Vinyl Impressions climb to the top of the building to hang new signage that will give the Y more visibility and a new sense of identity. Many workers say many people don't know the Hunton Y because of a lack of proper signage. 

"Normally because of the neighborhood we're in, we get overlooked," one staff member said. "And a lot of the times, because we're a privately-owned YMCA and we're not associated with the bigger YMCA's, we're overlooked when it comes to funding, just getting things that the children here actually need so to finally have someone to come and do all of these things for us that we've been needing for so long, it just blows your mind. It just makes us feel like finally we get our chance."

Barclay Winn with Wynn Nursery donated bushes and shrubberies to make things more beautiful on the grounds outside, Nathan Pumphrey from Azalea Lawn and Landscaping helped with the trees and the new, more colorful, cleaner look outside, as well. 

Back inside, Rob Nicholson, the owner of East Coast Appliance provided a brand new fridge and washer and dryer, is repairing the stove and oven, and is pledging to service all of the appliances in the future. 

Towne Bank donated 20 phones.

A community group called Men 4 Hope had scores of volunteers helping to paint the walls and make repairs, where needed. Men 4 Hope helps the community by trying to set a positive example for boys and young men.

One member even brought his teenage son to show him the value of hard work and giving back. 

Workers from local Arby's restaurants gave back, too, and helped with various projects. They also fed all of the volunteers to keep up their energy. They did  this here in Norfolk and at Make A Difference Day service projects all across the country.

"Arby's is involved in many charities," said Ray Conway, an Arby's representative. "One of our core values is make a difference......making a difference everyday is what we're all about."

Make A Difference Day is an initiative by TEGNA, the parent company of ABC 13, to spark a spirit of volunteerism all across the country. Workers at all of TEGNA's stations and media properties were encouraged to make a difference in their communities. It is one of the single-largest days of service in the U.S.

The kids we met at the William A. Hunton YMCA told us they are grateful. 

"What do you want to say to the people who cleaned up your YMCA?" we asked. "That they are very nice and they helped our community," one child said. 



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