No one had to show up, but more than 30 volunteers didn’t hesitate when the call went out for help.
For the last 75 years, the Catawba County United Way’s (CCUW) goal has been to increase the organized capacity of people to help others. Nothing better illustrates this than the CCUW’s annual Days of Caring held at the end of September.
United Ways across the country use this event to connect and educate the public about the nature and needs of nonprofit agencies.
The Catawba County United Way organized 35 volunteers to complete community service projects at five local agencies. They included: Adult Life, Community Ridge Day Care, Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Exodus Homes and The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club.
“We don’t want to be an organization that sits back complaining about how things need to change in our area, we want to be a part of the change we want to see,” Le’Quan McCorkle said.
His group of volunteers from Vertical Socket Inc. — a mentoring program for teens — clean and wash passenger vans for Adult Life Programs. The agency provides a supportive environment for individuals who cannot be safely left at home alone during the day.
Mark Bumgarner, the executive director for Adult Life, said it would be nearly impossible to fulfill their missions without the help of volunteers.
“Getting all of our vehicles washed can be expensive, and if I don’t have the budget for it, this certainly helps our bottom line,” Bumgarner said.
He said it could cost up to $100 per passenger van if Adult Life had to pay to have the vehicles cleaned, and the agency had 11 washed by three different groups during this year’s Days of Caring.
For Chelsea Hicks with Carter Bank and Trust, the United Way’s Days of Caring is all about being active in the community where you work.
She and three other co-workers helped with a painting project at Community Ridge Day Care in Hickory. The agency offers child care subsidies for families in need.
“This is a way for these community agencies to get to know you, and if you ever needed their help, they could be there for you in the same way we can be there for them,” Hicks said.
The 2018 Volunteering in America report, released by the Corporation for National and Community Service (nationalsevices.gov), found that 77.34 million adults (30.3 percent) volunteered through an organization in 2017. Altogether, Americans volunteered nearly 6.9 billion hours, worth an estimated $167 billion in economic value, according to the report.
Rev. Bob Silber, executive director for the Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry said volunteers have been an essential part of his agency’s operation for 50 years. His agency provides crisis financial assistance and counseling.
Publix in Hickory sent volunteers to help paint ECCCM’s lobby and halls.
“We can’t afford to use ministry dollars that are used for crisis assistance to hire a painter,” Silber said. “So today Publix is helping to clean up our lobby and get it ready for our 50th celebration. That’s the importance of volunteers as we live united.”
Along with individual and families volunteering, there were several groups who helped: Publix in Hickory, Vertical Socket Inc., Catawba County Youth Council, Gaston Family Health Services and Carter Bank and Trust.
The Catawba County United Way currently works with 15 funded partners who run 20 local programs focused on one of three impact areas: education, income and health.
For more information about the CCUW and other volunteer opportunities visit ccunitedway.com, CCUW on Facebook or call 828-327-6851.