MAXWELL: A show of generous citizenship by many

10/11/2000 – Printed in the EDITORIAL section of the St Petersburg Times Newspaper


When a St. Petersburg Times article reported a few months ago that the James B. Sanderlin Center’s buildings had roofing problems serious enough to shut down the facility, many individuals and several companies were alarmed by the news and sought ways to help.

Three of the people who helped are Richard Levy and Mark Broxton, owners of Bonded Roofers of Tampa, and Tom Murray, an outside commercial sales representative for Home Depot.

Theirs is a tale of exemplary corporate citizenship. Thanks to the two companies, the Sanderlin Center will have a new roof by the end of next week. The official value of the roof is $75,000, and it will not cost the center a dime because the companies donated money and much of the material and did all of the work free of charge. Even though the roofing company is doing the work for free, the city made the owners pay $300 for the permit. Initially, the city wanted $1,800. Levy, who grew up in St. Petersburg and attended Boca Ciega High School, said that after reading the Times article, he visited the center and asked how he and his partner could help. They were told to meet with Bob Gilder, a long-time community leader and trouble-shooter for the city of St. Petersburg, who had taken a personal interest in the Sanderlin Center.

“I sat down with Bob and told him that we wanted to replace the roof,” Levy said. “I told him that I’ve lived here all of my life and wanted to do something for the community. He appreciated my offer, and we put it all together quickly. What am I gaining from this? Just the satisfaction that I was able to help out. That’s the only thing I want out of it. I just want to be able to say that I did something like this.”

His company has placed 12 crewmen on the job, and each is volunteering his labor. Home Depot brought in 14 volunteers to help tear off the old roof and a state-of-the-art forklift. The job was tougher than first thought because of so much rotten wood. Home Depot donated the new wood.

Murray, who has lived in St. Peterburg for 33 years and has worked at Home Depot for 14 years, also believes that corporations should help their communities: “I try to jump in every opportunity I can to give back to the community. I was born and raised here. Bob Gilder is an associate of ours and deals with Home Depot on a regular basis through the city of St. Petersburg. When he called me and asked me what I could do, I was happy to help.

“Home Depot has helped Bob in the past with other neighborhood services projects like Paint St. Pete Proud. I’m glad that we donated labor, materials and money to the Sanderlin Center. What I’m getting out of this is personal satisfaction. And I want people to know that Home Depot gives back to the community. We do what we can to help.”

Other companies, including GAF Corporation, Cox Lumber, Tech Data and Ceredian, contributed either money or materials or both. Many non-profit organizations, such as the Victory Christian Center, the Juvenile Welfare Board, Weed & Seed, Mount Zion Progressive Baptist Church, Temple Beth-El, the Sanderlin Center staff and board of directors and the City of St. Petersburg Sanitation workers and Friends, donated generously.

I commend the private individuals _ Daryl Rouson, Hildegarde E. Shirley, Walter Smith, Lounell Britt, Don McRae, Terri Scott, Aqui Askia, Russell Brandes, Patricia Elston, Margo and David Fischer, Bob and Ellie Gilder _ who took their checkbooks.

Because of such generosity, the Sanderlin Center has a new lease on life. Perhaps the best news is that the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg recently donated the entire building, valued at $1-million, to the organization.