Cleaning things up

Published 11:34 pm Friday, June 24, 2011

Cleanup: Stacy Wells, left, and Graham Herbert, both commercial bankers with BB&T, spent Friday afternoon assembly lawn furniture for the Finney Avenue Residence, an intellectually-disabled adults home.

Bankers shine light on Finney Ave.

About a dozen employees of local BB&T branches ditched their suits and computers Friday in favor of shorts, T-shirts and rakes.

The employees painted walls, spread mulch, pruned trees, washed the deck and put together lawn furniture at the Finney Avenue Residence, a living facility for intellectually-disabled adults. The goal was to create an outdoor living area for the residents and generally improve the condition of the building.

“It’s part of our way of giving back to the community,” said Romie Fye, a financial center leader for BB&T. “It’s part of our mission to help our community prosper and grow.”

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The Finney Avenue Residence, located near the ForKids Suffolk House, is owned by the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The Western Tidewater Community Services Board provides services to the residences. There currently are 12 residents at the house.

BB&T’s participation was part of its Lighthouse Project, a company-wide effort to give back to communities where the bank does business. It was started in 2008, when many banks were looked down on by the public as part of the cause of the financial crisis.

“Banks were getting a bad rap,” said Dan Peterson, a commercial banker with BB&T. “The economy was so tough, it was kind of like a storm.”

That’s when BB&T leadership came up with the Lighthouse Project program. Every year, each branch receives money to do several projects in the community.

“We get to have fun and give back,” said Stacy Wells, who also is a commercial banker. “Our communities are very important to us.”

Wells, along with Graham Herbert, helped put together a gliding chair and tables for the porch area. Others were fixing landscaping and pruning trees in front of the house. Still others were rinsing the deck and decorating a flower box there. The employees also brought boards and bags so the residents can play cornhole.

Other Lighthouse Projects in the past have included refurbishing portions of homeless shelters, stocking food pantries, working with local charities and preparing care packages for troops. In its first two years alone, the projects touched the lives of more than three million people in 25 states, with employees donating nearly 100,000 hours, according to the BB&T website.