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More than just commerce: Local businesses come together for kids

Given the day-to-day obligations of managing a medium-sized business, Chase Paterno knows that managing his time and priorities is a crucial part of commercial success.

Paterno, General Manager of Cintas Corporation (Savannah), oversees the local office for the multinational company which specializes in dedicated business services. The company is Savannah’s leading provider of corporate identity programs and solutions, as well a top supplier of mats, cleaning supplies, safety products, and more.

While he spends much of his time focusing on business growth and client satisfaction, Paterno and his team at Cintas also recently took action to make a difference in their community. Earlier this month, Cintas and other local businesses teamed up with Helping Hands of Savannah in an outreach effort to members of Savannah’s younger demographic. 

“We have a lot of charities approach us and, of course we would love to give to them all, but I like to make sure the ones we work with are giving 100% back to the local community,” Paterno said, noting that Helping Hands of Savannah works closely with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office and other organizations to better the lives of young inner-city teens.

Helping Hands of Savannah was founded in 2015 by local law enforcement officer Courtney Bibb with the help of her friend Evonn Nguyen. Together, the women and a large group of volunteers and supporting businesses have made tremendous efforts in the community to change the lives of young people. Most recently, the non-profit hosted a retreat known as “Isolation for Renovation.”

On July 9, 50 local teenagers loaded up on a CCSO passenger bus and headed North to the countryside in Society Hills, SC. During the retreat, the young men spent four days in the wilderness working with mentors, developing life skills, learning about jobs and education, and establishing lasting relationships with their peers and mentors. Many members of the group came from troubled homes, some held criminal backgrounds and many live in underprivileged parts of town.

There were five rules that had to be followed during their retreat away, Bibb said: "No guns, no knives, no drugs, no electronic devices, and no attitudes."

“We wanted to show these boys that there is so much to do out there for a positive outlet,” Bibb said. "They don’t have to revert to crime…we want to turn these young boys that could face trouble into young men that are successful. We want to help them break the cycle. This mentoring program allows us to spend one-on-one time with these young men and show them that there are people out there who want to take them under our wing."

“Our goal is to show them we care and that we want them to be successful. They are not destined to be failures,” she added.

Paterno agrees.

“Catching these children at a young age to bridge them into model citizens and great human beings on the right path is what we’re aiming for,” he said. “Too often they see the wrong path being taken, and without programs like Helping Hands of Savannah, they may have never had the opportunity to be involved in working toward the right path for themselves.”

Additional businesses that contributed to the recent retreat and other efforts include Hollingsworth Auto Service, Buffalo Soldiers Motorcyle Club, and dozens of others.

Helping Hands of Savannah has several community outreach events throughout the year including a father-daughter princess ball, mother-daughter tea party,  Halloween haunted house, Thanksigving dinner, and more.

Later this year, the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club will be holding a Poker Run to raise funds for the upcoming Cinderella Ball, Bibb said.

“We seriously could not do any of this without the support of all of these local businesses who are always there to give back to their community,” she said, reflecting back to the dozens of supporting businesses including Cintas and Paterno’s team.

“It’s just really nice to have people like that who are all regular sponsors with no questions asked. It’s great to have that relationship and the trust built up, where you’re all working together to better your community.”

 “Having a partnership with an organization like Helping Hands of Savannah not only strengthens the whole community, but also Cintas as a business,” Paterno added. “As a business manager in Savannah, I feel it’s my duty to assist in giving back to the community, and Helping Hands of Savannah provides perfect humanitarian efforts for Cintas to get involved.”

For more information on current sponsors for Helping Hands of Savannah and to find out how you can help, you can visit helpinghandsofsavannah.org, or find them on Facebook. Bibb can also be reached directly at 912-656-8807.

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