story and photos by Ryan Saylor
Girls who spend their afternoons at Girls Inc. may have noticed changes at the facility on Old Greenwood Road during the last several weeks.
According to Amanda Daniels, executive director of the United Way participating agency, the organization's gym floor was recently replaced and a library and media center were remodeled with the help of volunteers and donations.
Daniels said the gym floor had been in dire need of replacement for years.
"The floor had been in since the early 1990s," she said. "The floor type had a bunch of holes in it, so it would catch everything."
The organization used money left to one of the benefactors of Nancy Orr, whom their facility is named after, to pay nearly $50,000 for the new floor, according to Daniels. Girls Inc. also sold sponsorships on the gym floor.
To date, Carman Inc. and Arvest Bank are the only two sponsors. But Daniels said there is room for two more.
"The sponsorships help us with upkeep of the floor," she said. "There will certain things we have to do to maintain it for the long term. We want to make sure we keep it nice and that it can maintain itself for 20 or 25 years.”
Greg Carman, president of transportation company Carman Inc., said the decision to sponsor the gym floor and be involved in Girls Inc. was an easy one for him.
"I've got two daughters that went for many years at Girls Inc. They played sports there and stayed there during the summer programs," he said. "During that time, I just looked around and saw how much good they were doing."
Carman, who now serves on the organization's board of directors, said his company has not only sponsored the gym floor, but has also volunteered its services in other ways to Girls Inc.
"There was a lot of stuff needing to be renewed and repaired," Carman said. "And I've got a pretty good group that can fix things and we've tried to go over and help them fix doors, fix leaks in the roof, things that had been passed over in the past."
He said many of the maintenance and repairs completed by his crews were minor, though a few required a bit more work. But he said the work his crew has done was just a small part of the overall improvements to the facility.
An improvement often overlooked was completed last April, according to Daniels, during the United Way's Day of Caring. At that time, she said volunteers replaced landscaping in front of the building.
Daniels said the staff had also taken items, such as old bookshelves and donated paint, to renovate two rooms in the facility and build new furniture. By completing the renovations to the two rooms, it opened up more space for activities with students involved in the organization's after school program.
"We can now use the media room as a classroom," Daniels said. "Right now, we have an investing (class) going on that could be secluded from the other girls."
Carman said seeing the renovations and the amount of work Daniels and other staff members had put into improving the facility was refreshing.
"There are some others who have stepped up, but Amanda is really the one who's circling the wagons," he said. "She's gone out and is telling people what the needs are. She's drumming up a lot of support."
He said the improvements have changed not only the girls who depend on the facility, but also the staff.
"It's like a breath of fresh air around there," he said. "With all the bad going on, it's nice to see something good."