AUBURN — A heavy downpour didn’t dampen the spirit of volunteers prepared to do good works during the annual United Way Day of Caring Friday.
Before setting out into the community, team members enjoyed a hearty breakfast prepared by Retired Senior Volunteer Program at the National Military History Center south of Auburn. More than 500 volunteers signed up for about 50 projects in the community, a few more than last year.
With an eye on the sky, they loaded up supplies before hurrying to job sites. Many outdoor projects that included painting and building were postponed until later in the day or this week. However, some teams worked through the rain and also completed inside projects Friday. United Way Executive Director Amanda Davis reported 15 of the projects were rescheduled due to weather by the end of the day.
Day of Caring co-chairs Kyle Vanover and Lili Hand welcomed volunteers, thanked RSVP, Alliance Industries and all who came out, and expressed hope that all of the jobs could be completed.
“If this is your first year,” Hand told volunteers, “I guarantee you this will not be your last” she said of the experience.
Seven projects in Garrett
Working through the rain, a team from Auburn American Legion Post 97 trimmed up hedges, mulched flower beds and cleaned gutters for James and Lois Freeman in the 800 block of North Peters Street.
A team from Vision Source rescheduled outside painting and other work at Alliance Industries until Tuesday.
Momentive Performance Materials repaired the floor and doors on a storage shed at Rita Simmons’ home in the 900 block of South Guilford Street, removed shrubs, rubbish, cleaned gutters, power-washed the exterior of the home and mulched flower beds.
A team from Auburn Village Rehabilitation Center cleaned cabinet exteriors, washed windows, trimmed shrubs and swept off the patio at Bev and Les Babbitt’s home on Maple Knoll Drive.
“They are such a nice crew,” said Bev Babbitt. “They worked so hard. This is such a wonderful thing the United Way does.
Day of Caring awards
• Steel Dynamics and Auburn American Legion Post 97 were presented the Golden Hammer Award.
• Silver Screwdriver awards were given to — Fetters Construction, Momentive Performance Materials, DeKalb Molded Plastics, Dekko, Therma-Tru, Eaton, DeKalb Health, Auburn Classic Noon Lions Club and TFC Canopy.
• Receiving Bronze awards were Signature Construction, Gibson’s Heating & Plumbing, New Process Steel, Nucor Fastener Division.
Also recognized were R.P. Wakefield, Community State Bank, Noble REMC, Ashley Industrial Molding, Beacon Credit Union, Custom Coating Inc, DeKalb County Democrats and United Steelworkers of America. The National Military History Center was the venue sponsor.
Ramping it up
Jean Farrell shared the volunteer ministry of NeighborLink that began 10 years ago and its Ramp It Up program. The program began in 2012 through an idea with former United Way director Julie Hill-Lauer. There were dollars left after start-up costs were implemented that needed to be spent, so the program became self-sustaining program in the fall of 2013 in partnership with the United Way, Farrell said.
“We link neighbors who want to help neighbors who need help,” she said. “We go out and do projects, so basically we are a Day of Caring all year around.”
Between United Way and NeighborLink, 24 ramps have been built in the county in the past 3 1/2 years, accomplished through grant money and volunteer teams that have stepped forward, Farrell said. The ramps have served several veterans and disabled people of all ages who now have the freedom to come and go from their homes safely.
“It’s been great. It’s just been a lot of fun to watch those who sit at home all day come out of their homes when we are done with the build and whiz down their ramp with glee,” she said.
“To have family members relieved of carrying the weight of a loved one, or a woman in a wheelchair down the stairs — is a blessing to those we build for, and it’s also a blessing for those who do the build and see that freedom. All that we take for granted,” she said.
Four ramps were scheduled to be built Friday, but the rain put a hold on some of the projects for a while. The cost for a ramp ranges from $400 to $1,000, depending on the design. A mobile cause effort to raise funds to build handicap-access ramps drew pledges exceeding $3,000, topping a goal of $2,500 during the breakfast.