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First ever Project 6 serves all corners of the community

Date: 11/18/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

AGAWAM - "We were elated to hear they wanted to help," Ethel Griffin, Program Coordinator for Rebuilding Together Springfield, said of the volunteers from Six Flags New England who stepped up to offer their services during the first ever Project 6.

Project 6 was Six Flags first day of service to aid the communities that surround the theme parks nationwide, and Melissa Pinkerton, Communications Director for Six Flags New England, said the company plans to make the event an annual one.

"We shut down the offices and got out in the community," Pinkerton said of the day of service, which took place Nov. 13. "We picked up the phone and reached out to different organizations [that needed volunteer assistance]."

Six Flags New England sent 117 full-time employees - and close to 50 seasonal employees who also wanted to help out - into the area to do everything from raking leaves to organizing a food pantry. Volunteers stained a wheelchair ramp, painted, fixed steps and cleaned up the yard of an 89-year-old woman for Rebuilding Together Springfield.

The non-profit organization, which receives hundreds of applications for home modifications every year, usually helps about 20 homeowners.

"Finding the number of volunteers for projects is difficult because a lot of work is done during work hours during the week," Griffin explained. "We would love to partner with [Six Flags again] in the future."

Other organizations that received help during Project 6 included Habitat for Humanity, the Western Massachusetts Food Bank, the Springfield and Westfield YMCAs, the Agawam Senior Center, Shriners Hospital for Children, the American Red Cross, the Springfield Museums and the Enfield Senior Center.

Jennifer Schadler, training manager, and David Almeida, human resources supervisor, of Six Flags New England, volunteered at the Enfield Senior Center doing everything from setting up and decorating Christmas trees to serving lunch.

"The time just zipped by for us," Schadler commented.

"It was a jam-packed three hours," Almeida added. "They ran out of projects for us to do."

Schadler said that participating in Project 6 allowed her to recognize how important it is to volunteer. "It really re-energized us," she said.

Almeida agreed, adding, "If I had the opportunity to, I would do more [days of service]. I want to do this more."

The goal of Project 6 was to benefit organizations dedicated to the needs of children and families, public welfare or environmental issues, according to a release from Six Flags.

"We were all looking forward to it," Pinkerton said. She invited other organizations that could benefit from Six Flags New England volunteers during next year's Project 6 to contact her. Pinkerton's e-mail address is