Every year SobelCo closes the office to perform a day of service for one of our nonprofit clients. Our amazing interns organize the entire event and host several in-office fundraisers leading up to the day of the event. This year we went to the Turtle Back Rock, which is connected with one of our nonprofit clients, The Zoological Society at Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, NJ. Several of us saw the word “zoo” in the directions from the interns and drove straight there - only to find out that we needed to go to the park around the corner. I was sad driving out of the Zoo at 10am, I’m not going to lie! When we got to the correct location, parking became a skill you either had or did not, and you had to pass by all your co-workers to try and find a parking space. I only saw one open spot and that was in front of the porta potty....and I did consider parking there but....decided against it.

We were divided into four groups, two of low intensity and two of high intensity. I do believe that we were tricked in the low intensity group as we quickly found out that it takes some serious muscle to remove stubborn weeds. The high intensity group went on a walk in the park to pick up garbage and scrub graffiti off rocks. I believe Jamie Polak was part of a subgroup that did some scientific water testing somewhere in the park, with the Client representative that was working with us.

Since most of us haven’t seen each other outside of the computer screen in about a year and a half, it  was exciting for us to come together and demonstrate our firm’s continued commitment to giving back to nonprofit communities in need. You could feel the positive energy throughout the day and some even surprised us with their herculean strength. For example, Adrienne Dubinin literally stomped into the bushes and began pulling out stubborn giant size weeds. Of course there were other tasks such as shoving those weeds into garbage bags and breaking them up from 10 feet tall or so to be able to fit in the bags. While everyone was working side by side while laughing and sharing stories, for a moment it really felt like someone pushed the “play” button on life again for all of us. Tara Del Gavio and I demonstrated our combined strength at fighting and compressing those unruly weeds to get them in the bags as well as several other team members. All it took was one person to ask, “Is there poison ivy in there?” and it was at that point that several people who are allergic to it had to reassign themselves to another task. We had people volunteer to get others water, to search for more garbage bags, to spy on the high intensity group - if you could find them! Brad Muniz was our paparazzi for the day, complete with his fancy camera.

The end goal was to remove as much of the weeds as possible as they were weighed in at 2,600 pounds (126 bags) and sent off to the Department of Agriculture. The Zoological Society then obtains government funding for removing an invasive species based on quantity removed. In addition to helping them reach their goal, we also reached ours! SobelCo raised $7,500 through the in-office fundraisers and, in addition, the firm, matched that to bring the total donation to $15,400 for the Zoological Society of New Jersey.

After we were done at Turtle Back Rock, we went to the Zoo to have lunch and present our donation to the Zoological Society of New Jersey representative. Some of our families joined us and were able to enjoy the rest of the day at the Zoo. This was such a beautiful day, both weatherwise and community-wise!  I look forward to whatever we do next year!