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Green Mountain Coffee Roasters employees, from left, Al Bergeron Jr., Darryn Merchant and Damaris Whitfield pressure-wash the outside of the Western Tidewater Free Clinic on Tuesday.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters employees, from left, Al Bergeron Jr., Darryn Merchant and Damaris Whitfield pressure-wash the outside of the Western Tidewater Free Clinic on Tuesday.

Archived Story

Volunteers perk up free clinic

Published 8:27pm Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It’s been a year or two since Fred Myrick has been a patient at Western Tidewater Free Clinic, but employees and volunteers there still recognized him when he arrived Tuesday.

Myrick, now a machine operator at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Windsor, was part of a team from the coffee plant that came to volunteer at the clinic Tuesday.

The seven employees landscaped, pressure-washed exterior walls, sanded and stained benches and did other odd jobs around the outside of the clinic’s Meade Parkway location.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters employee Carrie Collier sands a bench in preparation for staining it, like the one in the background, at the Western Tidewater Free Clinic on Tuesday.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters employee Carrie Collier sands a bench in preparation for staining it, like the one in the background, at the Western Tidewater Free Clinic on Tuesday.

In between his work, Myrick was somewhat of a celebrity. After losing his job at International Paper when it shut down in 2009, he no longer had health insurance. The folks at the clinic cared for him until he found the job at Green Mountain.

“Everybody I met here, from the guy that was cleaning up to the dentist, always had a smile,” he said. “That’s why when I had an opportunity to give back, I did it in a heartbeat and would do it again.”

The employees were being paid their regular wage at Green Mountain for the time they spent at the clinic Tuesday. It’s part of the company’s “CAFÉ” program — Community Action For Employees — which pays them for up to 52 hours annually that they volunteer with a registered nonprofit during their regular working hours.

“It’s Green Mountain’s philosophy to give back to the community where our employees are from and where the company is located,” said Anne Williams, the corporate and social responsibility liaison at the Windsor site.

The company, which currently employs about 250 at the Windsor plant that roasts, grinds, flavors and packages coffee, also donates $250 to nonprofits for which employees volunteer at least 25 hours on their own time annually, through a program called “Dollars for Doers.”

Miriam Beiler, executive director of the Western Tidewater Free Clinic, said Tuesday’s work crew improved the look of the clinic as well as its ability to render services to patients.

“We’ve needed to have more landscaping just to spruce up the place,” she said. “It’s going to make everything look so much better. By having volunteers, we don’t have to hire someone to do it, which means we can use that money to help our patients.”

Green Mountain associate Darryn Merchant was responsible for choosing the charity that would receive attention from the employees. He chose the free clinic because of its regional focus.

“I feel in love with it from the start,” he said, adding that the employees who participated paid for equipment purchases and rentals needed to do the job themselves. “There’s so many people this clinic assists. It was an easy sell for me.”

The clinic provides care for people living in the cities of Suffolk, Franklin and the counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton who have no health insurance and live at or below twice the federal poverty level.

Merchant said Green Mountain hopes to continue the relationship with the clinic.

“Those things that are not a part of their key role in the community, we’ll take care of for them,” he said.

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