There’s a good chance your place of employment or classroom may have been missing a few people Tuesday. More than 600 members of the Daviess County community, including nearly 200 students, volunteered their time and talents to agencies and civic organizations in Washington and Odon during the annual United Way of Daviess County Day of Caring.
The morning started with breakfast at the Eastside Park Community building before those volunteers, donning mint green shirts, headed out to more than a dozen job sites around the county.
“This was our 24th annual Day of Caring,” said United Way of Daviess County’s Executive Director Zella Taylor. “We had over 600 volunteers, over 15 agencies and civic organizations and were in were two in two cities. The volunteers coming together to serve hit in full force.”
Taylor said when she checks in with the participating agency coordinators, they always mention how great the volunteers are.
“They talk about how great a job the volunteers do and they do so in record time,” said Taylor, adding the event, which is growing every year, is not possible without the support of the community. “They complete the work, do so happily and ask what needs to be done next.”
Toni Matthewson, who served as the Day of Caring committee chair, said she knew the event would be big but had no idea how excited the volunteers would be.
“I knew it would be a big day but I never could have imagined the spirit, compassion and love the volunteers have for giving back to the community,” said Matthewson, who serves as director of Villa Lifestyle at the Villages at Oak Ridge.
Receiving volunteers were the Washington Parks and Recreation Department, Town of Odon, Daviess County Museum, Pregnancy Care Center, Chuck Harmon Little League, Odon Winklepleck Library, Veale Creek Players, Pace Head Start, Connections, Daviess County Family YMCA, DSI/Four Rivers, Habitat for Humanity, Generations, RSVP, Senior and Family Services and Camp Illiana.
Kim Kenney, OTC manager for Walmart, and a team of her coworkers were busy cleaning the Daviess County Museum in preparation for the Civil War program hosted by Monty Critchlow.
“We really like being involved in the community,” said Kenney who said she her coworkers enjoyed seeing customers outside of the store too. “We’ve done this the last six or seven years and it’s a really fun day.”
The Walmart employees said Day of Caring has also given them a chance to learn about places in the community they were unfamiliar with.
“Last year, we were down at Harvest sorting clothing,” said Maria Cline. “It’s nice to be able to go to different places we might not get to otherwise.”
Becky Kremp, director of volunteers for the Daviess County Museum said Day of Caring is a big benefit to the museum’s volunteers.
“They have done a wonderful job,” said Kremp, who said having a set of younger volunteers to help with some of the major cleaning helps the museum immensely. “They’ve swept the floors, dusted and polished. This is a huge and dusty building and it takes quite a while to clean. And we enjoy visiting with the volunteers that come in too.”
Just across the street, Alicia Burris and Libby Robinson from The Legends and along with Doug Bubalo from Edward Jones and Senior and Family Services Jeff McDonald were busy painting the window frames on the back side of the building.
“I think this is my 12th Day of Caring,” said Burris, who said over the years she’s had the opportunity to volunteer doing everything from work at the animal shelter to painting. “It’s amazing to see the community work together as a team to make all of this happen.”
Pulling up the back door of the Senior of Family Services was a bus load of volunteers from German American Bank and GPC. Those volunteers were on hand to help transfer exercise equipment from the Main Street senior center to DSI/Four Rivers Red Door facility on the east side of town.
Those driving down SR 57 may have noticed quite a few volunteers and a lot of activity at South Park.
Mayor Joe Wellman, members of Washington’s fire and police departments, Community Corrections as well as members of the Daviess County Security Center’s RARE Program and Road Crew among others were on hand to construct the park’s new playground.
“They are going to have all new equipment out here,” said Wellman, who said the new equipment, called Mountain Pass, features several ADA compliant pieces and will be put in where one of the basketball courts used to be.
Washington Parks and Recreation Superintendent Kip Kelley said a foot of mulch will be put down over the former basketball court that was in disrepair before it will be ready for play.
“This was made possible with some money, $15,025, from the Daviess County Community Foundation,” said Kelley.
The addition of the new equipment at South Park means that all of the city’s parks have received updates in the last handful of years.
“That was really one of our goals. We do a lot of things at Eastside Park but we wanted to be able to some things at our other parks too,” said Wellman, who said professional playground installers were also on hand to help the team of volunteers install the multiple pieces of playground equipment including swings, horizontal ladders and more. “This is going to be a really nice addition to South Park.”
Each year through Day of Caring, volunteers contribute thousands of hours worth of work to partner agencies, non-profits and civic organizations. To learn more about the United Way of Daviess County visit www.unitedwayofdaviesscounty.org.