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What happens when Angels 'ascend' on the community

What happens when Angels 'ascend' on the community. (Source: WEAR-TV)

Ascend Performance Materials is a company in the north end of Escambia County whose employees make their presence known throughout the community. The projects they're doing are touching lives in a very big way.

At The Retreat Adult Day Care program, Ascend took a 1980's pink and coral confined space and transformed it into a modern kitchen with state of the art appliances.

Retreat Director Jessica Ayers says the $55,000 grant did that and much more.

"We were able to tear down walls, make more, make more usable space for them to come into the kitchen area. We do cooking clubs. We have space for our new ukulele program, our music program,” Ayers said.

An Ascend team also took to the grounds of The Retreat. They transformed a privacy fence into a scenic mural lining the senior's walkway.

Marcella Bearden, a company executive assistant, says every brush stroke was in tribute to the seniors who enjoy their days filled with activities here; “We took our time and did it bit by bit, but we're happy to see that there's a garden blooming even in the winter here so that the clients can enjoy it.”

James Stinson, a senior maintenance specialist at Ascend, volunteered his skills and know-how as the site coordinator to install a new adaptive playground at Westgate School for children with special needs. "To see what is was beforehand to afterwards, it's sort of a big accomplishment for us."

It is big in every sense of the word; including the price tag as quality specialist Sharhonda Owens explains, "It's somewhere upwards of $200,000."

What the Ascend employees have actually given to these children is priceless. You can see it in their smiles; in their excitement over being able to do the things that most every child loves to do.

Finally, a place where they can shed their differences for a while and just have fun.

“Some of our kiddos who don't ordinarily have an opportunity to enjoy a playground can actually have those opportunities. It's bringing them, bridging the gap between some things they may see their peers or siblings working on, they're able to enjoy and participate in swinging and climbing,” said Westgate School physical therapist Tracey Elliot.

The employees have a longstanding 10-year partnership with Westgate and Stinson says it won't end with this latest major gift; "It's always going to be something that we can take care of. It's never done."

There is seemingly a commitment to ongoing support for the nonprofits and causes they take under their wing. For many years now, these angels have literally "ascended" from the north end to bring gifts for 50 foster children on WEAR's Communities Caring At Christmas list.

They painstakingly shop for just the right presents. Owens says it's not just their financial contributions, Ascend employees have sweat equity invested in every community initiative they undertake; "For all of our projects, we have lots of volunteer hours involved. That's one of the requirements of the Ascend Care Foundation funding; is that there be employee involvement. There's never any shortage of people willing to sign up to help, and help in a big way."

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