Volunteers help shape the future

People who impact a young person’s life can help mold their character and help shape their destiny.

Because Craig Covell, president  of Everlast Roofing in Lebanon, Pa., remembers the many people who positively influenced him as a boy, he has a passion for impacting the youth in his community today.

“It’s an important step in someone’s life when they want to give back to the community. So we’ve made it part of the corporate culture to encourage all employees to give back,” states Covell, whose company also operates plants in Bridgton, Me., and Howe, Ind., and services post-frame builders and independent lumberyards in 22 states.

“When my son was playing traveling baseball last year, I noticed all the cars in the parking lot were from upper middle class families,” Covell relates. “I grew up in a housing project and spent my early life living on food stamps. But I was always active in sports.

“But with the traveling teams they have today, I noticed there was a void in opportunites for kids who come from a more challenging background.”

Seeing the need, Covell jumped into action.

“We donated close to $15,000 to establish the Everlast Storm, a traveling baseball team with tryouts open to anyone,” he says. “Many of the kids are from the inner city and wouldn’t have the opportunity to get involved in traveling baseball.”

In addition to just the experience of being on such a team, the players have enjoyed some success and recently took third place in a major tournament.

“We bring tents to the games and provide drinks and sandwiches,” he says, “so our players can experience a fun atmosphere and family environment they might not otherwise have been exposed to.”

Covell’s personal experience is what drives his commitment.

“I owe a lot to the coaches that coached me,” he says. “I think everyone has their own passion and desires. But whatever your particular talent, you’re never going to make a difference in life unless you do something you love. I want to give kids that opportunity and see them grow.”

One boy that Covell coached in football ended up in the NFL as a player for the Miami Dolphins.

“But the more important goal,” Covell believes, “is teaching life lessons and developing character through sports. We tell the kids to realize that they’re developing now the person they will be. So they should take passion, energy and pride in what they’re doing.”

What’s on your resume?

Setting an example for future generations is so important for Covell that he strives to hire only like-minded individuals for Everlast Roofing.

“We want to hire people who will fit into our company culture and be proactive about community involvement,” he says. “Those types of people tend to be better employees.” By the same token, Everlast also encourages its suppliers to donate to its causes.

For Everlast Roofing, giving back means more than just writing checks.

“Whether it’s volunteering for 4-H, coaching sports or raising money for cancer research in a Walk for Life, hands-on involvement is vital,” Covell believes.

For example, Everlast supports the Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW) for high school juniors and seniors. “As soon as I got a letter asking for participants, it struck a chord with me. I was immediately interested and knew I wanted to participate.”

One of the largest programs of its type in the country, PFEW depends on volunteers to run its activities.

“There’s a real lack of education in the business field for young people. So we introduce them to what real business is like, what they need to do and what they need to expect,” relates Covell. “Company advisors are assigned to groups of kids who have to create a product, name it and figure out how to manufacture the product and take it to market.”

Learning how to succeed

Recently Covell guided 18 high school students through the program. They focused on how to price their product, how to advertise, how to do business ethically, even how to make presentations in front of actual business professionals who act as mock shareholders.

“Although we’ve given two scholarships to the program, it’s important to also personally donate your time,” Covell states. In the case of PFEW he spent many 12-hour days with his assigned students.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have the influence of coaches and mentors along the way,” Covell declares.
“We all face multiple crossroads in our lives. The more positive influences we have, the better chance we have at success. Life is too short not to be involved in something you love.”

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