by Calisa Cole

Ed. Note: This is the last in a series of three personal views of our annual holiday volunteerism event, Project Inspire, where employees and their families help transform an undeserved school, park or neighborhood center. This year’s event for our Santa Clara office takes place Saturday, Dec. 11.

After last year’s Project Inspire, my favorite sky-blue NVIDIA sweatshirt was splattered with paint that has stubbornly resisted multiple washes. But I don’t mind. The splatters remind me of the day I spent with my husband, three sons, and 1,000 other volunteers at McKinley Elementary School.

My family’s assignment was to apply a fresh coat of paint to a very large exterior wall. We donned smooth, powdery latex gloves and poured thick beige paint into trays. My husband, the tallest in the family, climbed an aluminum ladder to the top, under the eaves. Our youngest child commandeered the bottom area, near ground level, while our two teenagers and I were responsible for everything in between. Although none of us had any painting experience, we quickly learned how to saturate the brushes just enough to avoid leaving big drops of wet paint on the grass.


Calisa and her family at Project Inspire 2009

After completing our project from top to bottom, we walked around the school and admired the combined effect of all the painting, planting and carpentry done by the volunteers. We were a bit sore from stretching this way and that, but happy to see that our wall was part of the big picture – a better environment for well-deserving students.

Our family will be back in full force on Dec. 11. This year, we have signed up for the gardening projects at History Park. We’re novices at gardening but willing to learn! Project Inspire is a great way to have fun, meet new people, and give back to the community at the same time.