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RIMS volunteers give San Diego after-school program fresh outlook

Posted On: Apr. 10, 2016 12:00 AM CST

When dozens of San Diego students file back into the buildings for their after-school programs on Monday, they will see spruced-up gardens, tidier workrooms and fresh paint.

That's thanks to the 35 Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. attendees who traded in their business-casual attire for garden gloves, T-shirts and jeans to participate in the annual Community Service Day on Sunday.

The event gives those who work in and study risk management a chance to help the local community. Harmonium Inc., a San Diego nonprofit that provides after-school programs and teen counseling for hundreds of students, was this year's beneficiary of a day's worth of much-needed labor.

“We're just so thrilled to have been selected by RIMS,” said Melinda Mallie, Harmonium's chief financial officer, who was at one of the prefabricated and rundown buildings at Mason Elementary School, in one of San Diego's less affluent areas. “We're a small nonprofit, and we don't' always have the resources to do what needs to be done. They are going to make a difference to the children and the families served here.”

Mason is the oldest site of some 50 schools Harmonium serves citywide. It was one of five served by RIMS volunteers, who were divided into groups and taken to the locations by a tour bus.At Mason, the garden boxes outside the building had become overrun with weeds and debris. Inside, piles of scrap cardboard, old crafting supplies and broken electronics waited to be lugged to a dumpster. The black paint on the short metal staircase outside was chipped in places and was set to be scraped and repainted—weather permitting, as Sunday morning greeted the volunteers with a light drizzle at times.

A crew of six worked throughout the morning, in good humor and full of the volunteer spirit. “I do not have a green thumb… all of my gardens are dead,” joked Michele Turner, Bellevue, Washington-based head of governance and compliance for universal store for the Microsoft Corp., while pulling weeds from one of the two planters. “But I'm here today for whatever needs to be done.”

Nearby, Paul Kinson, a Manchester, New Hampshire-based consulting actuary for Liscord, Ward & Roy Inc., worked to dump a bag of fresh soil in another planter bed. “Every time I come to RIMS, I participate in this,” he said. “It's really nice to give back to the community.”In the building, Brandon Nettrouer, an insurance and risk management senior at Indiana State University, worked to clear a pile of what he referred to as “junk” by hauling cartons of papers, boxes and more across a muddy path outside. He said he participates in community service events often and likes that he can see progress.

“Even when you are just picking up trash, you can see the difference you make,” said Mr. Nettrouer, who will join Gibson Insurance Group in South Bend, Indiana, in June, within a month of graduation. “You see it right away, and that's rewarding.”RIMS Executive Director Mary Roth said she was happy to see participation despite the clouds that greeted attendees Sunday. “The charity does a wonderful job providing for local families here in San Diego. We're proud to be able to support their cause and thank our volunteers for showing the city just how great the RIMS' community really is.”