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There are many business, non-profit and church leaders who are very dedicated to our community. Shannon Riley, CEO of One Stop Environmental, LLC, is one of those people. One Stop is known throughout the United States for being an efficient, cost effective environmental contractor and was recently named the 16th fastest growing inner city business in the nation. Riley chose Woodlawn as her company’s headquarters because she wanted to support the economic development of a community that had seen decline but had great potential for revitalization. Riley’s bonds to Woodlawn are deep. The neighborhood has been home to One Stop since she started in 1999, and One Stop’s location on First Avenue North is across the street from the spot where her grandfather once owned a company.

While handling high profile projects all over the country and receiving numerous accolades, One Stop has not lost its commitment to its own backyard. Riley created One Stop’s Employee Volunteer Program to encourage employees to engage in direct service, partner with other local businesses and support area schools and students.

When The Dream Center, the outreach ministry center for Church of the Highlands to the City of Birmingham, issued a request for volunteers at Whatley Elementary School, One Stop answered the call. Five One Stop employees are participating in a one-on-one mentoring program this school year with 6thgraders at the school. The One Stop mentors eat lunch with their mentees every other week, talk to the students about what’s going on in their lives and offer words of wisdom and encouragement. During the 2009-2010 school year One Stop provided tutors for two hours every Wednesday to help 4th and 5thgraders with their reading and vocabulary skills. Company employees also volunteered for the school’s end of the year “Field Day” where children from all grades participate in outdoor games such as bowling, putt-putt golf and volleyball.

Riley is able to partner with other businesses through her participation with the Woodlawn Business Association. She serves as the group’s President and spearheads many of the group’s projects. She is currently working with the WBA to start a job skills program that will provide Woodlawn High School students paid internships. Last year, One Stop hired three students from the neighborhood. Two worked in the office conducting administrative tasks, and one worked in a local cabinet shop which built many of the cabinets in their new office. This was a great experience for all involved, and Riley would love to see more students have these types of opportunities with other Woodlawn businesses through the proposed job skills program.

Another collaboration that sprang up from One Stop’s work in the community was with Thrasher Brothers Trailways, another Woodlawn based business. The companies sponsored a field trip for the children of Cornerstone Schools of Alabama in honor of Earth Day last year. One hundred and fifty Cornerstone students in 1st through 8th grades were able to see the Disney movie Oceans at Rave Motion pictures in Hoover. “We wanted to offer the opportunity for the children of Cornerstone to see a movie which explores the beauty of God’s creation. It is important to One Stop as an environmental company to support the efforts of Earth Day, so organizing this school outing was the perfect fit,” Riley said.

Oftentimes, those who set out to serve and meet the needs of others end up receiving as much, if not more, than they give. Riley is thankful for all that her company has gained through these outreach efforts. “In our case we are definitely benefiting from our volunteer efforts as a company by forming relationships with students who may later become employees,” said Riley. She has also seen her staff members impacted on a personal level. They have gained better understanding of this community’s needs and issues, strengthened their teamwork and leadership skills, made strategic professional contacts and built friendships with some wonderful students.