Day of Caring Helps Community!
Day of Caring Helps Community!
by William L. Bulla
Nearly 300 community volunteers held a rally breakfast at Bethel Assembly of God Church to kick-off United Way of Washington County's 2005 Day of Caring.
Nineteen teams worked on a variety of projects within 19 United Way member agencies. In addition, projects were conducted at City of Hagerstown's Fairground Park, Washington County Health Department, and the Humane Society. The participating company teams include: Callas Contractors, Citicorp Credit Services, City of Hagerstown, Columbia Gas, County Government, DLLR, Exchange Club, First Data Merchant Services, First United Bank and Trust, Fujicolor Processing, Grace Academy Missions Team, Hagerstown Trust Company, The Herald-Mail Company, Long Meadow Rotary, M&T Bank, Review & Herald Publishing, Sunrise Rotary, Susquehanna Bank, Volvo Powertrain and UAW Locals 171 & 1247.
This annual event of United Way gathers volunteers from all walks of life to work together on community service projects. Many of these projects occur at the United Way member agencies. Volunteers get involved in a variety of clean-up, paint-up and fix-up activities at the agencies' facilities. The time and materials, supplied by the teams, relieve the agency staff from the time and expense of doing these activities. That provides the agency personnel more time and money to address the needs of their clients. Also, the volunteers learn more about the agencies' programs while having an opportunity to work with agency staff in serving their clients.
"Our partner agencies look forward to volunteers lending a helping hand," United Way Executive Director, Dale Bannon said. "This mobilization translates into huge savings for the non-profit community and ultimately improves lives.
Millie Lowman, Executive Director of The Parent-Child Center, supports Bannon's statement. "The Day of Caring is one of the most useful things United Way has done for its agencies," she said. "It allows us to have more funds to spend on our programs. This year, among other things, Day of Caring provided us with a new garage door to replace one that was beyond repair. We are so grateful for the donations of material and labor provided by this event."
The volunteer teams, in their bright red shirts, could be spotted throughout the community as they worked on a variety of projects. Some were seen scraping, sanding and applying fresh paint; cutting weeds, raking yards, pruning and removing bushes, re-seeding lawns, mulching plants, and other landscaping and yard work; installing garage door; caulking windows, installing exterior siding, building shelves and partitions; pouring concrete, and washing windows.
Many volunteers worked inside buildings on projects such as sorting food, and preparing Bags of Plenty for Food Resources, Inc.; distributing literature about town for Alzheimer's Association; and partnering with employees at Goodwill to sort and process donated goods.
"Day of Caring provides my agency with many highly energized, professional people, who have never been here before. They learn what we do, and they become interested in our activities. They share many ideas as they work, providing us with a valuable connection as we develop a relationship," said Ruth Anne Callaham, Executive Director of Food Resources, Inc.
Washington County's first Day of Caring was held in 1992. It was a week-long event at the member agencies. Working together, agencies and business partners, cleaned up the neighborhoods and/or conducted other agency-oriented events together during the week. In 1993, it became a one-day Saturday event. The projects included neighborhood clean-up, preparing agency mailers and food collection. Over the years, the projects included cleaning graffiti from public and private buildings in downtown Hagerstown, painting classrooms at South Hagerstown High School, and cleaning public parks.
In September 1999, the format was changed again. Because numerous volunteers could not devote their entire Saturdays to the event, many projects were left undone. Several of the business organizations that had worked with the Day of Caring over the years agreed to change the day from Saturday to mid-week. The number of volunteers increased because some of the companies agreed to allow liberal leave policies so their employees could work on the projects, and some gave paid days off.
Since 1997, the United Way has had a lead sponsor for the event. The 2005 Day of Caring was sponsored by First Data Merchant Services for its fifth consecutive year, and Sharon Martin, again, served as chairperson.
"This is a great community event of which I'm glad to be a part. First Data values this opportunity where so many valuable organizations benefit." Martin said.
At the kick-off breakfast, Gary Wright, 2005 Campaign Co-chair announced that $624,612 had been raised toward the $1.7 million goal of the campaign which started September 2, and will run through December.
Day of Caring demonstrates that United Way of Washington County is more than a fund-raising campaign. It is people with caring hearts and caring hands trying to show how the community can work together for the needs of its neighbors. It focuses on the member agencies and their contribution to the residents through results-oriented community care health and human service programs.
To contact United Way of Washington County, visit www.unitedwaywashcounty.org or call 301-739-8200.