ARLINGTON — Barbara Stratton and her husband Ron are co-owners of B&T Automotive, the NAPA AutoCare Mechanical Center at the corner of First Street and Olympic Avenue.
They’ve known for a while that their storefront’s appearance has seen better days, but even a little spring cleaning can be a challenge when your family is running its own small but active car shop.
“We’ve wanted to touch things up for a number of years now, but we just didn’t have the time or the money to do it,” Stratton said, noting that their business is currently at its seasonal peak.
This is why, even as Barbara took care of customers at the front desk, Ron asked her to buy a couple of dozen donuts Sept. 27, one for each of the employees of the Arlington-based Senior Aerospace AMT, who arrived that morning to apply fresh coats of paint to the building exterior.
The volunteers were joined by roughly an equal number of their coworkers that afternoon, when they moved on to painting Jim Howell’s retired gas station at the corner of Fourth and Olympic.
“We like to take care of our own community,” said Kathy Friess, executive assistant to the company’s CEO, Patricia Thurman, who also came ready to paint. “A majority of our employees don’t just work here, but live here as well.”
The employees’ efforts were organized as part of United Way of Snohomish County’s annual “Day of Caring” event, thanks to funds from the Arlington and Darrington communities’ participation in the America’s Best Communities contest.
LeRoy Mills, maintenance operations manager for the city of Arlington, coordinated the volunteers’ labors on site and explained that the city had chosen some areas of its downtown that could use a bit of sprucing up, with input from an outside merchandising consultant.
“One of the goals of the ABC contest is to dress up the frontage of our downtown, to make it more inviting to customers,” said Mills, who credited volunteers with repainting the bases of the city’s street lamps Sept. 25, and thanked merchants from as far away as Everett for donating paint toward their next day of labors Oct. 15.
Mills added: “It’s a joint venture between the city, the company’s employees, the merchants being helped and the United Way. It brings the whole community together. You want to see those people interact.”
Dennis Smith, president and CEO of United Way of Snohomish County, noted that Arlington and Darrington entered the ABC contest in the wake of the 2014 Oso slide, which prompted contributions to groups such as the United Way, with many of them funding studies on how best to revitalize the Stillaguamish Valley region.
“The findings of those studies became the basis of Arlington and Darrington’s joint application to ABC, so we feel like we’ve gone full circle,” Smith said. “Even before that, though, AMT has been one of our core partners in the Day of Caring for two decades.”
“We’re proud that Arlington has made it so far in that contest,” Stratton said. “But then, we’ve always been proud of Arlington. It’s one of the reasons we’ve been here for thirty years. This is our town too.”