Some 65 employees of Fishbowl, an Orem-based software company, went back to school for a day on Friday.
As a result of their visit, when students and teachers return to Springville's Cherry Creek Elementary on Aug. 19, they'll find a refurbished library with books that have been repaired and stocked on new shelves.
But it's what they won't see that may make the biggest difference — a new computer database to manage the school's other library, the one for the school's levels reading program that helps small groups of students working at the same reading level.
"Fishbowl closed their offices so they could get a lot of people," said Cherry Creek Principal Mark Balzotti.
The company's first "School Day of Service" meant Fishbowl employees could be found throughout the school, involved in a variety of tasks, from repairing torn book covers to building book shelves to stocking those shelves in the school's refurbished library.
"Fabulous. Wonderful," said school librarian Lori Blackburn, "I can't thank them enough. I really couldn't have got it all done."
Volunteers also were helping in a variety of other tasks — everything from setting up in-class computer labs to cleaning out lockers.
But the main part of the volunteer effort took place in the school's guided reading library and the adjacent computer lab, where Fishbowl employees were creating a database, complete with photographs, of the school's 2,000-plus titles used in the guided reading program.
This was the task that first attracted Fishbowl to the Cherry Creek for a service project, since the company's software is designed for inventory control.
"This way we really get to give a part of who we are," said Cade Close, the software specialist who headed the project.
Cherry Creek first approached United Way for help with its new library. When Fishbowl called the service agency looking for a company service project, it was a perfect fit. It's the kind of partnership the United Way would like to see happen more often.
"We don't get a lot of school requests, but we have been trying to reach out to schools more," said Brenna Cox, United Way's communications manager. "We try to match the volunteers to the need."
In this case, it is working well.
Fishbowl donated the software as well as the manpower to create database for the reading program. Close said the company also will send a trainer to the school before opening day.
When school begins, teachers will be able to search the levels library for appropriate book titles on their classroom computers instead of having to search through the titles by hand.
Close said he proposed the day of service as a way for Fishbowl, which has had a good year despite the depressed economy, as a way to pass along the company's good fortune.
"I just have to think that when you are blessed you should share those blessings," Close said. "Our company has been very blessed."
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