PricewaterhouseCoopers and students help community

Last month, a unique partnership came together to make a difference in a park in Binghamton, NY.

The partnership consisted of students and administrators of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Scholars Program of the School of Management at Binghamton University, the global accounting and financial services firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Binghamton mayor's office and other members of his staff, the Binghamton Parks Department, the Neighborhood Assembly on the South Side (East) of Binghamton, First General Services of Southern New York, and other businesses in the community such as Lowes, Home Central, Murphy's Fabrication, Sherwin Williams, Taylor Rental of Binghamton, and Bon Fed (a local artist).

Webster Street Park is located on the south side of Binghamton. While it has some nice amenities (swimming pool, basketball and tennis courts, and children's playground), the city and local residents were planning improvements - including a picnic area - if they could obtain the grant funds. The students toured the park and, along with Kevin Kane of the Parks Department, decided on a list of improvements that included the wishes of the Neighborhood Assembly.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, a company with no local affiliations other than with the School of Management at BU, agreed to financially support this project for the benefit of the city residents and the students who would participate in the project.

On May 2, more than 100 students as well as partners and staff from PricewaterhouseCoopers gathered with Parks Department employees, Tim Connolly of First General Services, and Bon Fed. Among the crew's accomplishments: painting a mural, spreading the mulch under the playground equipment, tearing up the grass and replacing it with flowers and shrubs around the flagpole, painting the fence around the tennis court, removing 30-plus garbage bags of debris, cleaning the tennis courts, building picnic tables, and starting to build a pavilion and install barbecues (funded by the project and to be completed by the Parks Department), and laying a paving-stone path to the pavilion.

The students completed their work around 4 p.m., and the park looked great. The local residents were very happy with the results. The mayor declared May 2 as PwC Scholars Day in the City of Binghamton. The best part of the day was to see the joy the students took in improving their adopted city. Many were asking if they could do this again next year. The partners from PricewaterhouseCoopers were also excited.

As the program director and a Binghamton resident, I too was thrilled to see how our students took so much joy in giving back to the city that has been nurturing them through their college careers. By bringing together so many different groups of people, we were able to make a real difference in a small piece of Binghamton. BU students have the power to be a real catalyst for change and improvement in the city. It is my hope that other student groups join our group and others to improve the city that hosts them for their time here. Together, we can show all area residents the true benefit of having students in our city.

By Elliot Kamlet, director of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Scholars Program.

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