Hope Academy gets cleaning as part of company's global week of service

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The principal at a Baton Rouge school says they have no money for maintenance and barely have someone to change light bulbs. So, when a local company offered to help for no charge, they said bring it on.

Around Hope Academy, on Jefferson Highway, there are people all over. Some are cutting grass, some cutting hedges and others asking where they can find more paint.

"That's what we're here for, to help them," said organizer Rachel Pourciau.

When the workers from Liberty Mutual showed up this morning at the school, the staff knew to expect some basic help. But when 60 people showed up dressed in T-shirts and with their own tools, they knew this volunteer effort was different from anything they'd seen in the past.

"I had no idea how huge this was going to be," said Principal Linda Stone. Walking around the campus, she said she can't remember when things have looked as good. "I can't say enough how wonderful this is."

One of the insurance company employees, Hank Chiles, nominated the school as part of Liberty Mutual's global week of service.

"I have a child here, a 13-year-old son who was diagnosed as autistic when he was 3-years-old," said Chiles. Chiles says in the past parents have gotten together to do what they can, but getting all the parents together at one time isn't easy. But having co-workers take a day off of work to spruce up his sons school was a blessing, he says.

Hope Academy is a school dedicated to children with autism and different learning abilities. Stone says because their budget is dedicated to helping the hundred plus students they serve, the way the school looks is often left untouched.

"Hope Academy being a non-profit, we run a tight budget," said Stone. "Maintenance like this is not in our budget."

Weeks ago, Pourciau says she made a stop by the school to make a list of everything that needed to be done: everything from pressure washing to painting, to pulling weeds and poison ivy.

"Everybody kept saying that's a big list," she said.

One issue they fixed, a sewer lid kids were tripping on.

"I don't know if otherwise it would ever get done," Stone said.

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