It's called PEACH (People Extending a Caring Hand), an annual charitable outreach project organized and sponsored by Lonza, the well-known chemical manufacturer based in Alpharetta, Ga.
Now in its sixth year, the 2017 PEACH project took place in January when volunteers from Lonza Water Treatment and its dealers from North America joined forces to make badly needed improvements to the Estridge Primary School in Basseterre on the tiny Caribbean island of St. Kitts.
"The goal of our PEACH projects is to give Lonza's pool and spa dealers and our own employees the opportunity to improve the lives of others and in doing so to strengthen the ties between us," explains Jerry Pierrottie, safety and health manager for Lonza Water Treatment, who helps oversee the PEACH gatherings and volunteer work.
PEACH had a budget of $20,000 of building materials and supplies for the project. The team painted the inside of the school, repaired storage cabinets and classroom doors and planted a garden for the school, among other tasks. All told, 122 U.S. representatives and 41 from Canada logged 364 hours of sweat equity between them.
In addition, PEACH participants were asked to bring school supplies such as notebooks, pens, backpacks and drawing materials for donation to the school.
William V. A. Hodge, the St. Kitts Ministry of Education's permanent secretary, pitched in during the work. Afterwards, he said, "Perhaps for some people, giving up a day in your office or work life to come out to the school to volunteer is not very important. For me it is of vital importance. I don't want to be there sitting and wondering what is happening in our schools. I decided to drop everything in my office and come out to give support to the head teacher, her staff and, of course, the students."
"This year, as always, we had some great fun together and all of the volunteers were delighted to be able to make a meaningful contribution in the students' and staff's lives by helping improve the quality of the school," Pierrottie says.