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2,000 volunteer at Salvation Army Veterans and Family Center, Lent School, Montclair Elementary.

PMG PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Volunteers help repaint cement walls outside the Salvation Army Veterans and Family Center in Beaverton as part of Comcast Cares Day on Saturday, May 4. The things they carried: shovels, brooms, paintbrushes, trowels, rakes, blowers, hoses, elbow grease — and a desire to lift up those who served.

More than 75 volunteers provided a major makeover to the Salvation Army Veterans and Family Center, 14825 S.W. Farmington Rd., in Beaverton on Saturday, May 4. It was all part of the 18th-annual Comcast Cares Day, an event that spurred some 2,000 local employees and their families to volunteer at multiple sites in Beaverton, Portland and Salem.

In Beaverton, workers were scurrying to pull weeds, rip out invasive blackberries, powerwash sidewalks, repaint exterior cement walls, spread barkdust and wash windows at the Veterans Center.

PMG PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Volunteers take a break from raking on Comcast Cares Day on Saturday, May 4. "We're sprucing the place up inside and out," said Cody King, a Comcast comms tech who lives in Oregon City. "This was a place that we could really put our stamp on."

About 60 veterans and another 47 family members live rent-free in the 50-unit, three-story building, where they have access to shuttles, religious services and referrals to addiction and mental health counseling and employment assistance provided by Easterseals Oregon.

The waiting list for the facility — one of just 20 operated by the Salvation Army nationwide — stretches from 45 to 75 people on any given day, according to the center's executive director, Crystal Scott. "The greatest need is affordable housing," she said.

Many of the residents are referred directly from hospitals or the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans can stay as long as nine months, or until they find housing. Comcast offers exiting guests a special internet plan for only $10 a month.

"Today has been amazing," Scott said. "Comcast, they are such a wonderful company."

After growing up in a military family, Comcast tech operations supervisor J.J. Newton decided to join one of the company's employee resource groups, VetNet, which helped coordinate the beautification effort.

"It's paying back the people who have defended the country I live in," the Sherwood resident explained. "Anything I can do to give back, it's a no brainer."

PMG PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Comcast employee Bambi Sorenson paints cabinets where a new computer lab will be built inside the Salvation Army Veterans and Family Center in Beaverton. Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation has granted $30,000 to add a new computer lab to the Salvation Army center as well. The beige walls were painted white in preparation on Saturday. "It'll be nice and bright and clean," said Comcast construction coordinator Bambi Sorenson, clutching a paintbrush. "We're going for a fresh look."

Elsewhere in Beaverton, 200 volunteers refreshed Montclair Elementary School on Southwest Vermont Street with landscaping, painting and other repairs. The flagship event for Comcast Cares Day deployed 350 to Lent School on Southeast 97th Avenue in Portland in order to renovate the teachers' lounge, repair basketball courts and repaint the playground lines.

Other projects took place at the Portland Rescue Mission, Oregon Food Bank and Taylor's House, a shelter for homeless teens in Salem.

The telecommunications conglomerate expected about 100,000 people to participate in the day of service globally.

"It is incredible to see how we can drive meaningful change by bringing together our employees, their friends and families, and our community partners, both on this day and throughout the year," noted Rodrigo Lopez, a regional senior vice president for Comcast. PMG PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - A volunteer pushes a wheelbarrow during Comcast Cares Day on Saturday, May 4.


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