Day of community work makes dreams come true


It was Christmas on Friday.

You might say that’s impossible, but Dianne Penza believes in making the impossible happen. And Koch Eye Associates believes in helping the community.

“We cut it close, but we knew Koch could do it,” Penza said Friday morning, as about 30 Koch employees and family members transformed the imPossible Dream building and playground for their “Christmas in July” fair on Saturday.

Giant candy canes decorated shrubbery on either side of the castle-like front doors to the building. Inside, icicles hung from the ceiling and groups of Koch “helpers” decorated the walls and worked assembly line style; only this looked more like fun than work.

Dr. Stewart Rosenfeld was the target of some friendly ribbing. He was attempting to tie ribbons to the necks of wine bottles to be sold on Saturday to benefit the non-profit that runs a playground for handicapped kids and makes dreams come true for chronically ill children. The doctor was having difficulty with a ribbon that was just too short. No matter how he tied the bow, it looked ridiculous. Finally, co-workers came up with a longer ribbon and Rosenfeld smiled.

He wasn’t the only one finding satisfaction in activity completely different than a normal workday.

“I love the theme of the day,” said Jackie Hammett, who works in the surgery department of the Koch Warwick office. “I find it very rewarding, and I’m proud to be a part of the company that gives back.”

Friday was Koch Eye Care Day and, as has happened for the past nine years, all seven Koch offices closed as 140 Koch employees devoted their day to helping non-profits across the state. The Koch family created the day in memory of Dr. Peter Koch, who ran his general practice from the same building as imPosssible Dream on Toll Gate Road.

The employees are paid for the day and, that evening, the entire staff and their spouses were treated to dinner. This year, the post-workday community party was held at the Aldrich Mansion on Warwick Neck.

Apart from getting out of the office and a change in routine, Hammett says the day enables her to do something she couldn’t do otherwise – volunteer to help a cause.

“I don’t have time,” she said.

Hammett is the mother of a 15-month-old daughter and between work and family, her day is filled.

“That’s why I’m so grateful to do it [assist a non-profit] through my job,” she said.

Cristy Reyes, who works in the Johnston office, feels the same way. She hasn’t found time to assist with a community organization or cause.

“I volunteer at home with the kids and my husband,” she said.

What she loves about the day devoted to community are the people.

“I like making people feel good,” she said, “that we can take care of them.”

For Richard Crute, who created Apple Eyewear and continues running the company that is now part of Koch, this was his 10th Koch Eye Care Day. Crute said the day enables the staff to get out in the community and see what’s happening.

“You realize there are people in need and you can help,” he said.

And there’s a reward.

“Selfishly,” he added, “it makes us feel good.”


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