When Dave Boroughs reached out to Clayton Savannah about helping his organization build a better school for children with special needs, the facility manager, John Phillips, noticed how passionate Boroughs was about helping children in the community.
Boroughs runs Sheltering Tree Ranch, a school in Savannah, Tennessee, that helps children with special needs get unique education opportunities. The ranch is located next to the Clayton Savannah home building facility.
Sheltering Tree’s Start
Around 2012, Dave Boroughs got connected to Clayton Savannah through Michael Williams, who was a sales manager at the facility at the time.
Dave Boroughs, founder of Sheltering Tree Ranch
Boroughs told Williams that he felt called to start the Sheltering Tree ranch, but had told God “I don’t have a ranch, and I don’t have any money to do this.”
Since then, Sheltering Tree Ranch has grown rapidly on what Williams would call one of the prettiest properties in the county. Serving over 30 families, this school for special needs has come a long way from its origins in a single church classroom.
Getting Team Members Involved
As Sheltering Tree Ranch grew and acquired some modular units for classrooms, they needed help updating these classrooms to make them functional.
Before volunteering Clayton Savannah team members’ time and facility building resources, Phillips wanted to make sure his team members were passionate about the Sheltering Tree Ranch cause. Williams and Phillips had Boroughs come speak to the facility and share the story of Sheltering Tree Ranch. Team members jumped right in.
“With Dave being our neighbor, and he came in and shared his vision, people just gravitated toward what he was doing and wanted to be a part of it,” Phillips said.
As soon as Clayton team members saw that Sheltering Tree Ranch is all about the kids and getting them education options they couldn’t otherwise access, they were on board to help.
“I think they figured out that it was bigger than them,” Williams said. “It was going to impact a region. There’s really not a lot of options for families with special needs in that part of the country.”
Williams and Phillips explained that team members would work 8 or more hours each day and then gladly get off work and go help Sheltering Tree Ranch with building projects as they arose.
How Clayton Helped Refurbish Sheltering Tree Ranch’s Classrooms
Over time, Clayton Savannah got to help update two different commercial modular units that Sheltering Tree Ranch acquired and put on the property neighboring the home building facility. The 10-12 key team members who worked on improving the units used materials donated by Clayton Savannah as well as materials donated by a local home improvement store.
Phillips reflected on the fact that five or six years ago, Sheltering Tree Ranch hosted classes in one room in a local church, but Clayton Savannah got to help them have their own space. Williams said that team members at Clayton Savannah helped raise funds for Sheltering Tree Ranch to purchase their first modular unit for classroom space and then helped them update the unit.
“We basically helped trim the modular out and helped seam the carpet. It had plumbing leaks and plumbing issues and some of our team volunteered to repair this classroom and get it back up to where it was functioning,” Williams said.
When Sheltering Tree Ranch acquired their second modular unit from a woman that Phillips introduced Boroughs to, Clayton Savannah got to help make that unit fit for classes as well.
“The unit was in rough shape, but it met the code that the school needed to have…we just needed to update it,” Williams said.
As they worked on the second modular unit, the local home improvement store as well as Clayton donated materials and employee time to get the unit fully operational for Sheltering Tree Ranch.
A Long-Term Commitment and Impact
Being able to donate building materials and time to refurbish modular units as classrooms for these children, Clayton Savannah invested in the local community and in the lives of these children. The investment doesn’t end there, though.
“It is an ongoing relationship. As long as they’re neighbors, we’ll be partners,” Phillips said.
Clayton offers team members the opportunity to donate a portion of each pay check to local organizations and at Clayton Savannah, Sheltering Tree Ranch is one of the team members’ weekly donation opportunities.
The facility gives extra hams and turkeys to families at the school annually, and when Sheltering Tree Ranch puts on their annual fun day, facility team members volunteer their time to help with activities and concessions. Clayton Savannah even loans them their large event tent for the annual fun day!
Williams has since transferred to Clayton Sulphur Springs, but remains on the board of Sheltering Tree Ranch. He is proud of Sheltering Tree Ranch and of the team members at Clayton Savannah.
“Of all the different facilities I’ve worked at, they were one of the most giving facilities,” Williams said about Clayton Savannah.
The team members at Clayton Savannah know that the kids at Sheltering Tree Ranch are getting great education opportunities and this drives team members to continue to give back. They understand that as long as you do what you can to help those around you, you’re spending your time in a valuable and impactful way.