Reverend Douglas Riley knows how to bring people together—and turns to the schools for welcoming, comfortable gathering spaces.
In a rural community like King William County in Virginia, where most locals are employed through agricultural means, there is considerable need for community events, but a limited number of facilities large enough to hold them.
Few understand that need better than Rev. Douglas Riley. An active leader in the county for over a decade—as a clergyman, board member of several prominent community organizations, and president of the local Lions Club—Riley is dedicated to improving the quality of life for King William and its residents.
His relationship with the King William County school district is particularly important. School administrators take pride in fulfilling the community’s need for gathering spaces. And they’ve opened school buildings for Riley’s charitable efforts on numerous occasions.
Using spaces in the middle school and high school, Riley recently helped organize vision and hearing testing for King William residents who might otherwise go without (providing free glasses and hearing aids), as well as a community-building basketball game dedicated to racial healing, among other events.
In the unprecedented year of 2020, the district was an especially valuable resource. “I think the schools have done a great job in preparing the kids during the pandemic. They opened their doors up for a vaccination clinic. They had a nice food drive. We had things going on that would help the community,” Riley says.
Because of the tight-knit atmosphere, the schools and churches work together to identify the students’ greatest needs and to meet them.
“A lot of the people and the students here don't have internet access in their homes, so some of the churches opened their doors and set up hotspots so they can do their homework.”
The reverend’s wife Ivy—a lifetime resident and graduate of King William High School herself, and a fourth grade teacher who retired from the district’s schools after more than three decades—brings her own passion for the students and the community, energizing Riley’s efforts. And they understand that part of what makes the King William school facilities boast-worthy for locals, and their community initiatives so meaningful and helpful, is the modern equipment designed for optimal indoor experiences.
With their first grandchild going into primary school this year, the Rileys are even more enthralled with the level of care the schools provide for their students, staff and neighbors. The primary school, Cool Springs, is the most recent educational facility in King William and is equipped with the latest technological advancements Trane has to offer.
It’s just one of many examples of comfort being key.
“If you have a program or if you are in a classroom and it's too hot or too cold, you can't concentrate. It has to be something where you are comfortable in your surroundings. You feel secure. You feel that all your needs are being met.”