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Community Service a Priority for Georgia Business Aviators
For members of the Georgia Business Aviation Association (GBAA) and The Home Depot Aviation Department, being a good neighbor is more than just a one-time donation or a single community-service event. Six years after they teamed up during an NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention in Atlanta with nearly 500 NBAA Members, staff and students to build an aviation-themed playground at Margaret Fain Elementary School just minutes from Fulton County Airport & Brown Field (FTY), GBAA members and The Home Depot staff are still involved with Fain school projects, playground maintenance and other service activities.
“We’ve kind of adopted the school,” said Gerry Ferriss, Community Outreach Committee chairman for the GBAA and lead inspector for The Home Depot Aviation Team. He noted that most of the 35 people in his department have been involved at one time or another with community service efforts at the school. In addition to helping build, maintain and annually refresh the playground, The Home Depot Aviation staff and GBAA members have supplied Fain Elementary – which is in a “challenged” neighborhood, according to Ferriss –with trees and decorations for the winter holidays, gift baskets for giveaways at school meetings, monetary donations and more.
“We’ve even had some kids out to the hangar to talk about careers in aviation,” said Ferriss, whose company has its five aircraft based at FTY. Ferriss credits The Home Depot Senior Director of Aviation Bill McBride with the leadership to get his department involved in being a good community partner, as well as being the driving force for the initial playground build, in 2007.
Dave Small, flight operations administrator at Cox Flight Operations and chairman of GBAA, said that his association is committed to being service-oriented and a good neighbor in the greater Atlanta area. “It’s a fact that we are here in the community, and we want people to know about all the good things that go on at airports, too,” said Small. GBAA annually raises funds for scholarships through its golf tournament, works with the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and GBAA members are involved with a variety of service projects, including the Fain playground.
According to Small, GBAA members and The Home Depot aviation staff most recently spread two tractor-trailer loads of special playground mulch (that they also helped pay for) at the Fain playground over the course of two days. “We try and replenish the mulch at least once a year,” said Small. The Home Depot employees also paint, pressure wash and clean up the playground regularly, according to Ferriss.
Another recreation and play area was also installed by NBAA, GBAA and The Home Depot volunteers on the grounds of FTY in 2007. The area includes a gazebo, picnic tables and some aviation-themed play equipment.
NBAA Southeast Regional Representative Harry Houckes complimented GBAA and The Home Depot on the “range of value they provide to not just the local business aviation community, but to the Atlanta area and state of Georgia as well.”
A letter written to McBride, signed by Fain Elementary Principal Mesha Greene and posted on the wall of The Home Depot hangar, says it all: “I am greatly appreciative of your dedication and commitment to our school through our partnership.”