Company : Wegmans Food Markets
Program category : Youth

Origins:

On the shores of Lake Erie in Western New York sits Cradle Beach Camp. It started out as a camp to bring underprivileged children from the City of Buffalo to get fresh air for the Summer. That was over 100 years ago, and Cradle Beach has since expanded its mission and location, now bringing children with disabilities to the camp, providing much needed respite for their families. Cradle Beach unites individuals and families, with a focus on empowering children with special needs and the underserved to become their best selves. They create opportunities for life-changing experiences in a safe and inclusive environment. Their vision is a community where everyone’s abilities are limited only by their dreams. A few years ago, Cradle Beach approached Wegmans to help support a capital campaign. It took the Wegmans Buffalo team one visit to the camp to see what a truly special place it is. The camp welcomes children up to age sixteen, who come from across the region to spend a week swimming; playing sports; doing theater, arts and crafts; exploring in the woods; and just having fun. With one counselor for every camper with a disability, those experiencing their first time away from home and family have all the support they need.

Contribution:

Wegmans team members wanted to help Cradle Beach Camp, which sits on 66 acres with 38 buildings and is subjected to harsh Lake Erie winters. Maintaining a camp of this magnitude takes a lot of time, money, and resources, and instead of simply writing a check, they decided to “adopt” the camp. For four years, hundreds of Wegmans employees spent countless hours at the camp, doing work the staff didn’t always have the time to do. They also recruited outside vendors who work in our stores – electricians, plumbing contractors, landscaping companies, and construction crews – to do whatever it took to get the most pressing tasks done to keep the camp safe and functional for the campers and staff.

Objectives:

Wegmans Mission of Support:

  • To help Cradle Beach develop a plan for sustained continuous improvement, maximizing the potential of its current and future partners.
  • Do more than write a check. Bring our energy, resources, partners forward to support Cradle Beaches’ Mission Focus:
  • Human Resource/Volunteer plan for using volunteer resources more efficiently
  • Campus Masterplan with assessments of buildings and grounds and plans around sustainability
  • Corporate Partner plan- corporate adoption plan Our goal: support Cradle Beach by offering sustainable solutions to their operations

Impact:

With 38 buildings on the campus and miles of paved trails, the Wegmans maintenance team inspected each building, providing the camp with a manual to determine the most pressing projects to tackle for the future. The idea was to create a sustainable plan so that the same tasks weren’t necessary every year, and the camp could focus on the most important part of the mission, the campers. This included:

  • Human Resources: Clarified Volunteer Coordinator role-job description, employee orientation and training plan suggestions Staff training/professional development
    • New employee recruitment and onboarding
    • Staff engagement Piloted/tested volunteer experience checklist
  • Corporate Partner plan: Help identify and meet with potential corporate partners who we can “pass the baton” to.
  • Campus Masterplan/Camp TLC: Provided annual Day of Caring maintenance: painting, cleaning, beach clean, mulching, planting, trail clearing PC Playhouse work: ventilation, built porch, railings, lighting, landscaping Arts & Crafts building: extensive reorganization
  • Painted New Era building Organized 3 storage buildings: sorting, removing, systematizing; created recycling systems
  • Removed siding from buildings in remodel phase Rebuilt seating and firepits Completed Master Plan/Audit: estimates and recommendations for properly maintaining facilities and grounds Install new entrance sign; enhance camp esthetics (2021)
  • Painted and provided minor repairs to 14 cabins and buildings Simplified, sort and remove damaged or unusable materials
  • Obtained donations for infirmary Investment: $154,720 (in-kind/financial)

Quote:

We wanted to provide a resource for Cradle Beach, so when they are asking a donor to fund a major project, they can point to the most critical needs on the grounds, knowing that they’ve all been inspected, addressing any safety and longevity concerns,” said Mike Keating, Wegmans Buffalo Division Manager. “The idea was to allow the camp to focus on the campers, not the grounds, long after our three-year commitment. As we say goodbye to Cradle Beach, we leave behind a safe, well-maintained camp with a bright new entrance sign to welcome a new set of campers to the shores of Lake Erie, ready to make memories that last a lifetime.“

“Organization, simplification, streamlined processes and procedures, in-kind resources, building revitalization and upgrades, grounds clean up, repairs & beautification, beach clean-up, rock painting, signage, the list goes on and on,” said Ann-Marie Orlowski, Cradle Beach Executive Director. “The community support and kindness offered by Wegmans year after year has been a true gift.”