By Ashley Rader
The United Way’s Week of Caring has hundreds of volunteers working on projects for different non-profits and organizations throughout their communities. The United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County participated in the Week of Caring, scheduled for June 18-22, and arranged for a troupe of volunteers to help out with many of the organizations that the local United Way supports or partners with on a regular basis.
United Way Director Debbie Guy noted the agency has been involved with the Week of Caring in the past but it was never as extensive as the effort that was put forth this year. She added that it had also been a few years since the agency took part in the nationwide effort.
Several different activities were planned last week to assist agencies that work with the Carter County United Way. On Tuesday, June 19, employees from Climate Controllers volunteered with the Community Day Care and Learning Center to clear out a storage unit and transport those items to the day care location on South Hills Drive in Elizabethton.
Volunteers from the Alliance for Business and Training helped the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency’s Neighborhood Service Center with the preparation and distribution of the quarterly commodities for Carter County residents. Volunteers helped to unload, sort and package 308 boxes of food items on Tuesday that were distributed from the National Guard Armory on Wednesday.
Center Coordinator Crystal Dugger said the volunteers from AB&T provided a large amount of assistance helping the Center prepare for the distribution.
“We have a lot of clients that can’t carry the heavy boxes to their cars,” Dugger said. “They have been a tremendous help. They have helped us box the items and they help carry them to the clients cars.”
Johnny Eggers from AB&T brought seven volunteers over to the National Guard Armory on Wednesday morning. He said they frequently like to help out in the community and when they heard of the United Way Week of Caring they decided to sign up.
“We do volunteer around the region but when we have a chance to help in our own county, we do that first,” he said.
Later in the afternoon Wednesday, volunteers from Carter County Bank and the Chamber of Commerce gathered at Harmon Park to re-stain the pavilions and park benches to help out the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department.
On Thursday, June 20, a group of volunteers from Eastman Corporation worked at the Elizabethton Senior Citizens Center. The volunteers did a variety of jobs, from painting the Center’s sign, landscaping, cleaning closets and constructing a new horseshoe pit for the Center’s members.
Eastman Volunteer Coordinator Jim Harrell said that while the United Way hosts their Week of Caring, Eastman sponsors a Day of Caring where employees are encouraged to get out in the community and to participate in different volunteer projects. Harrell said he has participated in the past and when he learned there would be an opportunity to work in Elizabethton this year he took the lead on a project for his community.
“This is the first time we have worked in Elizabethton,” Harrell said. “Most of the volunteers live here but some are from other parts of the Tri-Cities. We are here to work where they need us to be.”
Senior Center Director Kathy Dula said the volunteer group was a big help for the Center.
“They are doing a lot of the work that were cannot do,” Dula said. “A lot of the project, like mulching, raking and the heavy lifting, we just don’t have the manpower to take care of the projects.”
The horseshoe pits will be a welcome addition to the center. Dula said the center received a donated horseshoe set but only had one stake to play on. After talking with the volunteers, they offered to build a horseshoe pit when they stopped in to do the other work for the center.
“The members really had a ball when they played last time,” Dula said. “With the new set, it will be more convenient and they will be able to take chairs out and watch the games.”
The volunteers worked at the center from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and were treated to breakfast and lunch by the Senior Center.
Other projects that were completed during the Week of Caring included Kelly’s Clean Team from the Elizabethton Housing and Development Agency cleaning the playground and parking area at the Community Day Care and Learning Center. Hunter United Methodist youth hosted a Sock Hop Party and other activities at Adult Day Services. United Way Board members Jacob Tipton and Greg Bowers distributed informational posters to restaurants for the American Red Cross. Volunteers from Sycamore Shoals Hospital visited day cares to teach hand washing skills and cleaned and organized the Disaster Response Trailer to help the American Red Cross. The Cub Scouts visited area nursing homes.