PwC Scholars wrap up community-service project after a year’s worth of work
The Scholars renovated a preschool that offers children with disabilities an enriching environment to learn alongside their peers
Community service is integral to the experience of being a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Scholar, so much so that it’s one of the four pillars the School of Management honors program is built on to support its mission of developing future leaders.
Each year, the Scholars develop and execute a large-scale community-service project within Greater Binghamton. Fundraising, planning and collaboration with a local organization takes place throughout the course of the school year, culminating in a workday during the spring semester in which current Scholars and alumni gather to complete the project.
This year, the Scholars worked closely with Helping Celebrate Abilities (HCA) to renovate its preschool in Johnson City, NY. The preschool offers children with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 5 an enriching and diverse environment in which to learn alongside their peers.
The group transformed the preschool’s outdoor area into a handicapped-accessible garden and outdoor classroom, complete with a pergola and new fencing. A sensory flower bed that will be made to look like a butterfly will be installed over the summer.
Inside the building, murals designed by the Scholars were painted on the walls. Interactive sensory units as well as mosaics designed by Binghamton artist Emily Jablon were installed in the hallways and classrooms. The mosaics were constructed with the help of the preschoolers and Scholars.
PwC Scholars president and junior accounting major Jeremy Solomon said all of this started with just an idea.
“HCA told us they wanted to make their hallways look nicer. That’s where this all started. And together we started brainstorming a number of things we could do from there. It became a very ambitious project, and we’d have to overcome a lot of obstacles, but we dove in full force and were determined to get it done,” he said.
One of those obstacles would be the cost. With a goal of raising $15,000, the Scholars held a number of events throughout the year, including a trivia night, a “date” auction that let students bid on networking events with professionals, and a stock-trading competition that pitted students and alumni against one another.
The final fundraising total: over $18,000.
“It’s phenomenal. They didn’t only reach their fundraising goal, they exceeded it,” said Matt Singer ’96, a partner at PwC and the firm’s relationship partner with Binghamton University.
Singer, who comes to Binghamton every year to help with the community-service project, said it’s a testament to how dedicated the students are to getting the job done and done well.
“They are so determined. They want to do this. They want to do the right thing. They want to help. And there is so much you can learn from a project like this. It’s very rewarding” he said.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the project for Solomon was interacting with the HCA preschoolers over the course of the year. The Scholars painted rocks for the garden with the students, helped with their Thanksgiving feast and even played songs for them for the holidays.
“I’m going to miss working with the kids, and I’m very appreciative for the time we’ve been able to interact with them. We hope that we were able to brighten their day,” Solomon said.
“The preschoolers look up to the PwC Scholars. They loved when they came to visit,” said Mary Claire Truman, HCA’s marketing and development coordinator.
Truman said HCA was especially impressed by the work of the Scholars.
“There is no ‘no we can’t’ with this group. They are so positive and motivated and driven,” she said. “The PwC Scholars have been so organized throughout this entire process and working with them has been a wonderful experience.”
The renovations were unveiled to the community in the form of a ribbon-cutting ceremony. A number of politicians from Greater Binghamton and representatives from HCA and other nonprofit organizations attended and were able to see firsthand the efforts of the Binghamton University students.
With its completion, the PwC Scholars can add another project to the long list of ways they’ve given back to the community. This year, the alumni who came back for the workday took time to travel around Binghamton and check on projects from years past.
“It was a great experience to go back and look at these projects and to remember what it was like working on them,” said Seth Drucker ’06, a director at PwC and former president of the Scholars program.
“To see all of these past projects still standing and still thriving — it really drove home the impact this group has had and will continue to have on this community.”