COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH))–June 17th is a special day annually for NBC4 and our parent company Nexstar Media, Inc.
It’s our annual Founder’s Day of Caring, and this year we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of the company’s founding while performing volunteer work across Central Ohio.
Every day, you hear us say that we’re “Local For You” and there’s no better day to showcase that than on our Founder’s Day of Caring.
“We have about 65 employees out and about who will be giving about four hours apiece. So it really adds up as far as service hours and works done in our community,” said NBC4 Digital Anchor Kristine Varkony, who served as co-chair of this year’s Founder’s Day of Caring planning committee.
One of the non-profits NBC4 worked with this year was Healthy Homes, an initiative by Nationwide Children’s to provide and preserve safe and affordable housing in communities across Columbus, particularly in the Linden and South Side neighborhoods.
“Housing is foundational to people’s health. So without housing, you can’t access the other things that you need to live. So, we work to provide affordable housing so that people have a safe, stable place to live,” said Gretchen West, Executive Director of Healthy Homes. “So we have three main programs. We have a home repair program where we provide exterior home improvement grants to existing owner-occupied properties. Then we also build homes for homeownership opportunities and then we also have a rental prong where we build or rehab housing for low to moderate incoming households.”
Many of the homes NBC4 crews volunteered at Thursday has been renovated in recent months.
“They’ve already done a lot of the leg work by some of the interior renovations and so we’re out here putting the finishing touches, making these pots for people in the neighborhood just to kind of re-introduce after the pandemic, what Healthy Homes is all about,” Varkony said.
“I look forward to my wife coming home and seeing how beautiful everything is going to be,” said Knud Manniche, owner of one of the homes that NBC4 volunteers landscaped. “It’s really great that people volunteer, take their time to do things for other people because it means so much to a neighborhood that it is nice to look at.”
For the NBC4 team, it was a chance for on-air talent to meet and bond some of the behind-the-scenes staff in the sales department, something not possible for the last 15 months.
“This is actually my favorite workday of the year,” Varkony said. “We had to take a break last year when we didn’t do it but it’s good to get back out here and say hey, we’re not just people you see on TV. We’re in your community, we live here, we work here and now we want to volunteer here as well.
West said helping neighborhoods shine is especially important after the pandemic.
“It’s really important that our revitalization strategy focuses on the people who have always lived here and making sure that they have high quality, stable housing and so that’s our focus and we hope that we can sell these homes to people that come from Linden,” West said. “We’re also starting building rental homes. So we have twenty of those scheduled for this year and you can see them all along streets in South Linden.”