Nearly 20 Chevron Richmond employees were honored at Wednesday’s Richmond Police Activities League (RPAL) annual luncheon for their continuing assistance in maintaining its gymnasium floor for local youth — an effort that has saved RPAL up to $40,000 over the last six years.
Three times during those six years, including in 2016, Chevron has brought a team of volunteer employees to help clean, strip, re-wax and re-stripe the floors of the Hal Holt Memorial Gymnasium at 2200 Macdonald Ave., according to RPAL executive director Larry Lewis.
The 20,000 square-foot gym, formerly a Mechanics Bank building, was built to provide a positive place for local youth to participate in various activities.
“But what we didn’t plan for was the maintenance of this floor,” Lewis said. “And I got an offer from Chevron saying they can do it.”
Lewis then found assistance from Tom McDougal of Hillyard Flooring.
“Tom said, ‘If you have the people, I’ll bring the equipment…I’ll bring the products,'” Lewis said.
Hillyard brought the expertise and flooring products, while Chevron brought the labor.
Mike Hernandez, a 30-year Chevron employee who led the volunteer team, said he launched into community projects about 25 years ago at the encouragement of the company. Hernandez, a Hercules resident, was born and raised in Richmond and said he’s volunteered at local shelters, schools, and in parks. But he says his favorite project is the RPAL gym.
“We can immediately see the efforts that we put in, because we strip the floor, and put wax on it, and after it looks like glass, it’s beautiful,” Hernandez said.
The gym is one of a number of resources that RPAL offers to local youth, who can access programs in sports, music, mentoring, education and more. Last year, the organization served 2,554 young people. Of them, 85-percent improved their grades, 80-percent improved school attendance and 90-percent had no contact with the juvenile justice system, according to RPAL. In addition, 88-percent of participating seniors graduated high school.
At Wednesday’s luncheon, the organization thanked the wide web of community partners who make their programming possible. For more about RPAL, visit here.