As a (fairly) new staff-person at United Way of Lake County, I did not know what to expect, and I certainly did not expect to feel the way I felt throughout the process, in a good way. Starting at United Way of Lake County last October, I had been through the campaign process. I have relationships with some of the companies and am still learning names and who is involved with us, but there are names that repeatedly come up in conversations around the office. There had been build-up to Day of Caring around the office. We were excited that almost 100 more volunteers and 10 more projects were adopted than the previous year. We were excited for getting people involved, and I was excited to drive around and see what Day of Caring is about, being my first one (though there have been 20 since it started).
My first stop, the project was a dirty one, where multiple companies had provided volunteers to work at Mooreland Mansion in the 90+ degree heat. I walked up to the first group and I immediately noticed the smiles. I took pictures, said ‘thank you,’ and went to the next site. A group of people was helping a senior who needed her house cleaned. Again, the first thing that I noticed were the smiles, from both the volunteers and the recipients. The elderly woman was so incredibly grateful and the volunteers seemed to be as well.
While driving around, I noticed that each site was the same. These people, who typically work in an office or factory, and who already generously donate money, were willing to work in the dust and dirt because they understood that there are seniors who can’t see and are not able to clean their house, that there are libraries and senior centers that are need repairs they are unable to do them themselves, that there are people in their own towns that are unable to live comfortably, and each of the volunteers performed their tasks with the understanding that they were improving the lives of these people. I visited Birthright, another recipient of volunteers for the day. Birthright helps provide food and clothing for low-income, pregnant women and their children. There was a gentleman there putting an electrical outlet in the warehouse where they sort donations so that they could put a telephone in the back. The head of the organization was almost in tears telling the man how much help having a phone in the warehouse would be because there are only two staff members and this would provide more resources to help them assist more people in need. The gentleman smiled as though working on the wires in a hot warehouse was completely making his day. He was using his own individual talents and skills he most likely used on a daily basis to help an organization that will end up helping numerous people. He is just one example. At each site there were people using their skills to help others.
It was so cool witnessing companies, who already generously donate their money to United Way-funded programs (which is incredibly important), coming together to add another dimension of care to those around them.
Imagine for a moment, that every individual took that attitude, that each individual in Lake County ‘adopted a project’ in our neighborhoods… we see someone whose grass needs cut, we see that a mailbox needs repaired, etc… Imagine if every individual ‘adopted a project’ for those in need. The homeless wouldn’t be as in want, low-income children would have less to worry about, and homebound seniors would get to live a higher-quality of life because we each put some time and our unique gifts into improving their lives.
On behalf of the staff of United Way of Lake County, I want to thank those who took the time to participate in Day of Caring. You truly touched people all over this county. Your efforts spread far and wide that day and will continue to spread.
Lastly, I ask that those reading this attempt a ‘Day of Caring’ attitude with those around them. Please let your eyes be open and your hands be willing to help. It will have a larger impact that you know.
Thank you for reading,
Special Projects Associate
United Way of Lake County*All images by United Way of Lake County