PPG Industrial Coatings spearheaded the project, aimed to “protect and beautify” the Thomas A. Edison Birthplace Museum at 9 N. Edison Drive by repainting and staining the office’s exterior, as well as some of the Edison home’s interior, all the while keeping Edison elementary students engaged, supporting their math and science education through the programs offered at the museum.
PPG, which operates a facility in Huron, has a corporate program called “Colorful Communities” in which the company provides volunteers and products along with financial contributions to bring “color and vitality” to communities throughout the world.
Last year, PPG completed 11 Colorful Communities projects. It expects to complete about 30 more this year — including the one in Milan — as part of an effort to contribute $10 million during a 10-year period.
The local project engaged about 30 Edison third-graders, 30 PPG volunteers and utilized 50 gallons of paint, which the company donated.
“We chose Milan because one of the employees at the Huron plant is actually related by marriage to someone that works here and asked if we would be willing to donate a little bit of paint to help spruce up the property and at that time we had just started learning about the Colorful Communities project,” Huron plant manager Jamie Altman said.
“We thought it would be a perfect opportunity to see if we could do more,” Altman said. “We want to do more. We share a lot with Thomas Edison in terms of commitment, in terms of science and innovation. He was the perfect fit with our commitment to science, technology, engineering and math.”
PPG then presented a $20,000 check to support the museum’s Edison educational programs featuring these subjects.
“Edison (is) our favorite son, our most famous son,” Mayor Steve Rockwell said. “To have PPG come in and volunteer their time and product, making this museum look that much better — it really enhances our community.
“We’re just so lucky for them to have chosen us to do this,” the mayor added. “That’s about all I can say. We’re just so thankful. I understand this is the first project they’ve chosen to do with this business — that’s just huge.”
Rockwell said it made a difference for the students as well.
“It really introduces them to what Edison really was,” he said. “As a child, he was experimenting. There are stories of things he did when he lived here, but as he went on in life he really made an impact on the whole world. If not for him, I don’t think we’d be able to do a lot of things or appreciate a lot of the inventions he made. It’s great.”
Is there a modern-day Edison among the local third-graders who helped?
“You never know,” Rockwell said.
The mayor proclaimed Sept. 12, 2016 “PPG Colorful Communities Day” in honor of the beautified museum. That was followed by a surprise performance by some of the museum board members who sang George M. Cohan’s 1929 song “Thomas A. Edison, Miracle Man” — the lyrics of which highlight the spectacular achievements of the famous Milanite.