After taking a tour of the Ben Center at Benjamin Franklin High School in South Baltimore and seeing the need for a clean, safe place to play for the kids in the early childhood development program, Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) President and CEO Stephen Budorick rallied area businesses to donate their time and services to create a new interactive play and learning space for students and teachers.
Steve, a former United Way of Central Maryland campaign chair, enlisted a number of companies to participate in the project, including Plano-Coudon construction, and BrightView and Floura Teeter landscaping. These “Playground Partners” are all are local companies with a strong and steadfast commitment to giving back and improving the communities in which they serve.
On September 13, the Playground Partners gathered with current and former Family Center students and their children, and United Way staff to celebrate the opening of the playground.
“You can really see how this is more than a playground for these kids. This is a clean, safe place to play and learn outdoors--something many of them don’t have access to outside of this building.” --Tom Kelly, Director of Design and Chair of Corporate Giving for COPT
“This was a big undertaking, and a lot of people contributed—from the school staff who dealt with the disruption to all the partners and their volunteers. We had crews here on really hot days this summer, but the thing that keeps you going is that you know you’re giving back to a community that needs it.” --Ted LaPierre, Plano-Coudon General Superintendent
“Seeing this amazing space makes me want to cry—it’s beautiful!” –Briana Shaw, Benjamin Franklin High School graduate and Family Center alumna
COPT’s stewardship of the ethos to give back to the communities they work in is unparalleled. The company’s recent support of the United Way Ben Center will assist in the continued work of the center to facilitate the education of teen mothers (the graduation rate of Ben Center students is nearly double that of teen parents nationally), and the other programs offered by the center, including United Way’s On Track 4 Success dropout prevention program, job and food assistance, and more for students, their families, and neighborhood residents. COPT and our other Playground Partners are true hometown heroes.