If Serve the City–Peninsula was being rated by its “customers,” it likely would receive five stars.
The organization, known as STC, has, by all accounts, made a huge difference on the Virginia Peninsula. The group was started three years ago in Newport News by two ladies, Cindy Hahne and Sue Grimes, and then spread across the area. The group strives to bring volunteers together to help people and non-profit organizations meet their needs with acts of kindness.
For example, STC focuses much of its energy in the East End of Newport News, assisting low-income elderly residents who may be disabled or widows. Volunteers do an array of tasks, from painting to cleaning up sheds and garages, to bringing houses to a place where they meet city codes.
“We were met with a lot of positivity from the city,” says Hahne, STC’s executive director. “Everyone we served has been very positive.”
After STC volunteers work in a neighborhood, they distribute a survey to see how their efforts were received. The reviews usually come back glowing: “Words aren’t enough to express my gratitude and satisfaction with the work done by Serve the City at my home — excellent!”
Another happy recipient said, “The people of Newport News who are on fixed incomes and without family support really appreciate this type of help. Thank you all for all your help and concern.”
The STC organization is international and started in Brussels, Belgium, in 2005. Hahne and her husband, Dave, who live in Newport News, know the founder of STC and decided in 2016 to travel to Brussels and see what it was all about. They volunteered for several weeks and decided they liked it so much that they wanted to bring the concept home and start it in Newport News. The Hahnes love the idea of helping others with an army of volunteers who simply want to help.
To make their acts of kindness happen, STC, a non-profit entity, pairs up with service partners and volunteer partners. The partners come from non-profits, corporate, civic, religious and city entities. Some provide volunteer power, while others help STC meet the needs of the community. Combined, their manpower and knowledge make it possible for STC to achieve its goals.
No one who serves in STC is paid. The group has a core team of nine who do the planning and all the behind-the-scenes work. In all, there are more than 1,000 volunteers, often called “green shirts” because of the tell-tale STC t-shirts they wear. So far, STC has helped about 200 people with their homes. “We have grown a lot,” Hahne says.
One project involved helping a non-profit organization called Operation Breaking Through improve its building in the East End. Volunteers painted the building, installed handrails and repaired steps.
“We love to help other nonprofits,” Hahne says. “If the facility is better, they can do their jobs better.”
Tim Davidson, chairman and executive director of Operation Breaking Through, noted in STC’s Annual Report, “Please know that this work has meant so much to Operation Breaking Through and the team of volunteers at 330 Poplar Avenue. It has lifted their spirits and helped them realize that there are people who truly care about the work they are doing to make a difference. AND, we have gotten a ton of compliments on how good the building looks from clients, and it has attracted even more clients to this location. God Bless Serve the City for the heart you have for our community.”
Hahne is thrilled with the community response to STC. “I’m glad we brought it here. We will stay and continue to serve as long as there are needs in the community,” she says. “We love seeing people’s hearts to serve. It’s refreshing to see so many have compassion and care for others.”
TO THE POINT:
Serve the City – Peninsula
Address: 6 Lett’s Point Landing, Poquoson, VA 23662
Contact: Cindy Hahne, 757-718-7231