HANCOCK COUNTY, OH (May 17, 2022) - It’s difficult to truly wrap your mind around, but picture 1,000 people volunteering together.
Picture them shoveling and spreading mulch, trimming bushes, painting trim inside and fences outside, organizing and sweeping sheds and attics, planting colorful flowers, vacuuming and cleaning, assembling picnic tables, pulling weeds, moving furniture, pressure washing, cleaning kitchens, chopping wood.
Picture 1,000 people making the decision they want to help; taking the time to sign up and clear their schedules; making plans with their team; and amid the hustle and bustle of life, remembering to grab boots and shovel instead of briefcase.
And picture 1,000 people smiling and laughing, working hard in the cold and rain or under cheery, welcoming skies; building a team; doing something different; learning new agencies and skills; getting things accomplished; and, in their wake, leaving something better.
That’s what, as volunteer coordinator, I got to see the first week of May during United Way of Hancock County’s 28th Days of Caring. And it was marvelous.
During Days of Caring, volunteer teams sign up to help for a four-hour time slot, and nonprofit agencies submit projects they need completed. UWHC connects teams with projects based on a volunteer team’s size, skills and availability, then we send them into the community in force. Traditionally, workplace teams sign up together, but Days of Caring is open to any group.
I started my role at UWHC in March 2020 and after two weeks, started working from home because of COVID-19. During a normal year, we would have opened registration for Days of Caring right around then. After conducting research, we decided to still hold the event, but postpone it to September with health safety protocols in place.
About 220 people participated that fall, my first Days of Caring. I felt inspired that they still came out to help, wearing masks and taking socially distanced photos. Coworkers had not seen each other in person for months. They took to task the physical work, and provided, maybe more importantly, a morale boost to each other and the agencies they helped.
Looking at the 1,000 people who signed up this year (picture a sold-out crowd streaming out of our local performing arts center), I am again inspired.
We’re back — not wearing masks, smiling, working, taking normal photos, and doing good in the community. We had such an incredible response to Days of Caring that our staff had to solicit more projects. It was exciting to reach new agencies and form new partnerships in that way.
In all, 130 projects were completed for 40 agencies, with the volunteers accumulating 4,000 service hours. Their work is a value of nearly $120,000 based on the Independent Sector’s 2022 Hourly Value of Volunteer Time estimate of $29.95. That’s $120,000 freed from our nonprofit agencies’ budgets to dedicate to their direct services of improving people’s lives.
Our teams this year came from Marathon Petroleum Corp., Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies, Blanchard Valley Health System, City Apparel, Whirlpool Corp., Goodyear/Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., the McComb Future Farmers of America Club, First National Bank of Pandora, Fifth Third Bank, Hearthside Food Solutions, Aktion Club of Hancock County, and UWHC’s Community Connections group.
During the week of Days of Caring, there is an energy and flurry as our staff visits work sites so that we can thank our volunteers and see how it’s going. I have never come across an unhappy team. No matter what kind of tough job or less-than-ideal weather, they are always on a mission, receptive to our visits, smiling, working hard together, enjoying the chance to leave their mark.
Drive around. You will notice fresh mulch and welcoming flowers, silky new paint jobs, expertly trimmed trees and bushes. Now that the dust has settled, it is those marks left behind that point to something even bigger — that this community truly cares.
We are back and better than ever, and are extremely grateful to our volunteers.
Mayle is the volunteer coordinator for United Way of Hancock County. If you would like to learn more about Days of Caring or other ways to volunteer, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or register as a volunteer at liveunitedhancockcounty.org
Article Source: https://thecourier.com/news/387199/days-of-caring-sees-record-participation/