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Photo by Ron Burkett.
The Dad Brigade has worked year-round to maintain Green Valley Elementary, including pressure washing, painting and landscaping.
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Photo by Ron Burkett.
Dad Brigade projects over the past year have included painting, landscape maintenance, simple repairs and constructing garden beds.
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Back-to-school cleanup has become a lot easier thanks to the Hoover City Dad Brigade.
Since they began last year, the ranks of the Hoover City Dad Brigade have swelled to the point that more than 600 volunteers are expected to take part in this year’s cleanup project.
Like last summer, the group will not only tackle various “spruce up” chores at the city’s 10 elementary schools but also will take on Hoover’s three middle schools — Berry, Bumpus and Simmons — plus Brock’s Gap Intermediate.
Students’ dads, grandfathers, uncles and other father figures will gather July 23 at Home Depot on Galleria Circle for a 6:45 a.m. Chick-fil-A breakfast and to be assigned their school and tasks, which could range from painting to pressure washing to toting furniture.
There will be two team leaders per school who have met with their school’s principal to determine the buildings’ needs and materials required. Participants can expect to work from 7:30 a.m. to about noon.
The Dads Brigade is the brainchild of Derrick Murphy, past Hoover City Schools board chair and current City Council candidate. It was launched last year in an effort to engage more fathers in their children’s school experience.
“Traditionally, it’s the moms who are more involved in school activities, and we look at this as a way fathers can become a bigger part of the equation and enhance relationships with teachers and administrators,” Murphy said. “Our volunteers range from family members to area church volunteers to high school athletes earning community hours. Whether you have a connection to a student or just want to help, your participation helps our facilities, but more importantly, benefits the kids socially and academically.”
The Green Valley Dads (GV Dads) group — inspired by the 2015 Dads Brigade project — is led this year by Dennis Donnelly. Though it had a slow beginning, participants have had workdays of pruning bushes, trash pickup and, just this spring, building garden beds. They are also planning to construct an outdoor classroom next school year, Donnelly said.
Donnelly said the GV Dads seek to take on tasks not typically addressed by the city school system.
“Helping around school grounds and continually taking input from teachers as far as what they need, that’s ongoing,” he said. “And for us to be out there and demonstrate stewardship encourages the kids to be a part of school life. My take on it is: Involved dads equal successful children.”
Jenny Smith, a Deer Valley first-grade teacher, said she and her colleagues appreciate the efforts of the dads group.
“They work hard on projects our maintenance and landscaping teams are not able to do such as pressure washing, painting, building garden beds and cleaning out our greenhouse,” she said. “Green Valley is over 50 years old, and these types of improvements are much needed. And in addition, they are setting wonderful examples for our students”
The Deer Valley Dads is a longstanding group, and Keith Stephens is its leader. Some of the projects undertaken in the past year include painting hallways, cleaning out vegetable garden beds, laying pine straw and assembling a shed, he said.
“Not only is it good for the students to realize their dads are involved, it’s especially positive for young boys to see men pitching in and helping out and encourages them to do the same when they’re older,” Stephens said. “This kind of effort lets the students know that their school is important to the community.”
Mark Hamilton, Home Depot store manager, admits he was skeptical when Murphy contacted him about partnering in the Hoover City Dads Brigade in 2015.
“I was immediately intrigued and knew it was right up our alley and a perfect project for Home Depot to be involved in,” Hamilton said. “But 400 volunteers showing up to take part? That concerned me.”
But show up they did, and Hamilton said he couldn’t hide his amazement, calling it “a phenomenal response and a testament to the city and the families that live here.”
Since that first Dads Brigade event, Home Depot has not only donated materials to individual and group projects, but many of its employees have donated their time working alongside the dads group members.
“It’s great to make that big impact once a year, but we’re here year-round as your neighbor and welcome schools to contact us for assistance,” he said.
Hamilton said he’s looking forward to July 23 and the potential 600 volunteers descending on his store.
“Let me just say, if anyone can pull it off, Derrick Murphy can,” he said. “I’m sure not going to doubt him.”