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Special Tree is Bringing a River Rouge Elementary School Library Back to Life for Leap Day and hopes to encourage others to make a difference on February 29th.

Children at Ann Visger Preparatory Academy in River Rouge, MI, will have something more to celebrate on Leap Day when the doors to their newly renovated media center officially open, after closing for more than a decade.

The renovation is a “Leap Day” gift from Special Tree who is on a mission to encourage the public at large to use the gift of an extra day to make a difference.  Special Tree is providing the inner-city school with new media center furniture, hundreds of new books, a student reading center, and new interior design elements as part of their initiative. The company created the website, where people post their Leap Day plans to let others know about all the big and small ways to make a difference on Leap Day.

CEO Joe Richert was inspired to create after finding an old note he’d written to himself about putting the gift of an extra day to good use. “Leap Day fits in with Special Tree’s long-standing commitment to give back to the community, so we’re using our resources to make that happen in a much bigger way,” he said. “We’re asking everyone to participate and to help spread the word.”

Before the renovation
Special Tree began the media center renovation in early January and plans are in the works for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and Leap Day celebration on February 29th. “The school embraced Special Tree from the start and have been an important part of the project team,” said CEO Joe Richert. “I’m impressed with the leadership at Ann Visger and how they’ve used their limited resources to do what they can to improve the school.”  Ann Visger Principal Joe Emery, Jr. adds, “"We are truly blessed to be associated with Special Tree,” he said. “The media center renovation is another sign of the overall rebirth of the River Rouge School District." 

Project is now in full swing!
Many of Special Tree’s clients, who are in recovery from a brain injury, are helping with the renovation through Special Tree’s vocational rehabilitation programs. Clients are refinishing the existing book shelves, are making colorful ceramic tiles for a mural in the company’s in-house art studio, and have sorted and entered the new books into a new database for the media center. “We’re very proud of our clients,” said Mr. Richert. “Recovering from a brain injury is hard work, yet our clients are finding energy to give back.”

According to Special Tree’s Community Services Director, Joe Richert, II who is overseeing the media center renovation, word of the Leap Day project at Ann Visger is spreading quickly throughout the small downriver community. “Everyone in the community is so excited about the project that community leaders are now talking about turning Leap Day into an official day of community service,” he said. “That’s the heart of what is about, showing people you care and making things happen for them in meaningful ways.”