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Suggest a Project for Work On Wilmington

Here’s your chance to feel good about helping area schools and non-profits…and all we need from you are project suggestions.

One of our favorite Wilmington Chamber Foundation events each year is Work On Wilmington (WOW), an annual day of volunteer service that will next be held on April 25, 2015. The Leadership Wilmington class organizes the event and, on average, 1,000+ volunteers roll up their sleeves and dedicate a half-day to tackle 30+ projects at area schools and non-profits across New Hanover County. WOW provides the labor and the materials…which is the best deal around!

The projects are wide ranging and impactful. Volunteer activities during the annual WOW events held since 2006 have included tasks such as: painting the fence of historic Bellamy Mansion; creating a nature trail behind the YWCA; clearing a lot for the Good Shepherd Center; hanging tiles in a downtown parking deck for the City of Wilmington; clearing overgrowth from an historic cemetery; refurbishing landscaping and adding shrubbery and picnic tables at Roland-Grice Middle School; building fences at the New Hanover County Arboretum; revamping the driveway and parking lot at The Open Gate Domestic Violence Shelter and dozens more.

Each year local companies provide teams of employees to work together on projects. Volunteer efforts are made possible by over 70 area businesses and individuals who provide materials, services and financial support. GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy routinely provides 600+ volunteers who have revitalized the campuses of Dorothy B. Johnson Elementary, DC Virgo Middle School and the Boys and Girls Club of Wilmington, among others. Their activities alone have included laying new carpet, constructing a playground, revamping a baseball diamond, painting and landscaping.

It is estimated that, at each WOW event, over $130,000 in free labor is provided by volunteers who participate. The average price of a project in 2014 was $2,800. WOW has spent in excess of $250,000 in direct cash expenditure over the last four years on projects.

Because many hands are collectively working, projects that would take months to accomplish are completed in just 4 hours. Work On Wilmington grew out of a request by GE Hitachi, and is a program of the Wilmington Chamber Foundation. The event is organized each year by the current Leadership Wilmington class, which is a program of the Chamber Foundation. The ten-month Leadership Wilmington program consists of eight all-day sessions, an orientation social, a two-day retreat to begin the program, Work On Wilmington, and a graduation ceremony. The all-day sessions occur once a month from September through April. There are five components that are stressed throughout the program: leadership skills/styles; community issues and challenges; dynamics of regional social and economic change; diversity; and the class project. If you are interested in joining the 2015-16 class, applications will be accepted beginning in June 2015.

But first things first…we need project ideas for Work On Wilmington 2015. If you know of a non-profit (no churches, please) or school project that needs to be completed, visit to submit a proposal…or simply encourage administration at the organization to submit one. Potential project sites will be visited by a Leadership Wilmington class member, assessed, and presented at a project review meeting. The process is competitive. Typically 40-50 proposals are received and about half make the cut. Those that have applied in the past and weren’t chosen are welcome to apply again.

If you have questions, please contact Haskell Rhett at 910.762.2611 ext. 204 or