Friday was not a typical morning for some of the staff of Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball.
About 20 members of the accounting firm gathered Friday morning in Sunrise Park at 19th and MacArthur to start on the United Way’s Born Learning Trail, a new feature initiated by that organization’s Wonder Women League.
The group formed late last year with 10 founding members and now numbers 35, United Way of Ellis County Director Sherry Dryden said. The group is an affinity group of the United Way, but operates independently.
The Born Learning Trail is an international initiative of United Way. It consists of 10 stations along the park’s paved path where families with young children can do activities that are fun and provide learning opportunities.
A hopscotch station can help children learn to identify numbers and colors, while another is designed to help them learn shapes. Others encourage families to tell stories about what they see in the park or compare the plants around them.
“When we were looking for our first project that we wanted to do, that project felt right,” said Rhonda Meyerhof, co-chair with Nancy Jeter of the Wonder Women League. “It felt like something good to do for the community and to help increase education opportunities for parents without costing them additional funds.”
The cost of the trail’s signage and paint for the stations is $1,800, Dryden said.
The crew from ABBB volunteered its services Friday to install the signs. A post-hole digger on a tractor got the holes dug, while some of the volunteers cut plywood to glue the signs to. Other teams put the poles in place. Next Friday, another crew will paint the stations on the sidewalks.
The project seemed like a good partnership, Brenda Bickle, ABBB financial services coordinator, said.
“Each of our offices are challenged with doing a community service project throughout the year. We thought this was a great way to give back,” she said.
Not only will ABBB install the trail, the company’s employees will maintain it, too, repainting the stations when necessary. That was a big help to making the trail possible, Meyerhof said.
“We wanted to be able to fund it, but taking care of it can be monumental. That was one of the conditions that the City of Hays had, was that they would not have to maintain it,” she said.
The trail should be finished and ready to use Friday. A ribbon cutting might be scheduled for a later date, Dryden said.
Once that’s completed, the Wonder Women League will work on a second project and is even talking about a third, Dryden said. Those projects will be announced at a later date.
The league’s Power of the Purse fundraiser last month raised $8,000.
Dryden said she is impressed with the group’s success. She said she was at a conference last week in Tennessee and learned of a Wonder Women League in Forsyth County, N.C., — population 400,000 — that has fewer members and has not accomplished what the Hays group has.
“In two years, they did what the Hays Wonder Women League did in six months,” Dryden said.
Meyerhoff attributed that success to the group’s leadership.
“We have wonderful leadership with Sherry at the United Way, and Nancy Jeter, she has a lot of respect in the community as an individual and obviously from her previous position with Big Brothers Big Sisters,” she said.
Jeter retired in 2016 as director of Big Brothers Big Sister of Ellis County.
The community support of United Way is also a key to the group’s success, Dryden and Meyerhoff said.
“We have so many volunteers in the community wanting to do things,” Dryden said.
“This community is not like many communities in that the support for United Way is very generous,” Meyerhof said.
“It has taken off. We want to do things. We want to make a difference in the community,” she said.