A United Way Day of Caring by Harrodsburg employees last fall at the Mercer County Senior Citizens Center has blossomed into a lasting friendship. Corning volunteers said they have developed personal ties with the senior citizens, and a one-time visit has turned into monthly lunches and chair volleyball games.
Karl, a Corning employee, started it when he was the United Way leader for the Corning Glass Technologies facility in 2016 and suggested the senior center visit as its Day of Caring project.
“I have many fond memories of being close to my grandparents when I was growing up, so I thought rather than building or cleaning something, let’s go have a good time with the folks at the center,” he said. “We had so much fun with them that we decided to make monthly visits in 2017.”
On the last Wednesday of each month, usually six to eight employees spend two to three hours with the seniors. After one hour of chair volleyball, the Corning employees serve lunch, and then sit down to eat and talk with the seniors. Sometimes, employees will stay for Bingo after lunch, or help deliver meals to homebound seniors.
It’s become so popular among employees and plant leadership that they take turns going. There is a sign-up sheet that fills up quickly, Karl said.
“We enjoy sitting and listening to their stories, and in some cases, we get to visit with Corning retirees,” Karl said. “They will tell us what it was like when they worked there in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s always a special day.”
Corning has deep roots in Harrodsburg and will soon celebrate its 65th anniversary.
Engineering Fellow Shawn Markham said Corning is a second- and third-generation company in many locations. “Volunteering in the community helps us to stay connected across those generations,” she said. “When we visit the senior center, we meet those who have retired or have children, nieces, nephews who do or did work here. When we work with the schools, we are supporting the future first, second or third generation of potential employees.”
B.J., a volunteer for the program, said volunteering helps those arriving from out of the area to meet people in the community. She has talked with seniors who have family ties to the plant.
“One day, I talked to one retiree and two other seniors who have children that work at the plant,” she said. “The employee’s daughter was there visiting her grandmother, and the employee stopped by later to tell me how pleased he is that we volunteer there.”
Brian, a volunteer, said he can see the seniors appreciate having younger people to tell stories to. The chair volleyball games are always fun – and can get competitive – but the personal connections he makes with residents are what make the visits memorable, Brian said.
“I can see that Corning is a big part of the Harrodsburg community,” he said. “It’s important that we are good corporate citizens and that the community can be proud to have Corning in the area.”