September 18, 2015 Was the Biggest Volunteer Event in the Chippewa Valley!
Year after year, Day of Caring has grown and its impact has expanded. On this amazing day, over 850 volunteers went to work in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties to help 43 nonprofit organzations with well over 80 projects, as well as helping residents in need. These projects, large and small, make a significant difference in helping nonprofits defer costs, or giving them the human resources and time they otherwise would not have to get things done.
Let's Feed 50 Thousand Was an Amazing Success!
On the early morning of September 18th, the Rosewood Room at America's Best Value Inn was abuzz with team leaders setting up stations in preparation for the food packaging project. By 9:00 A.M., the room was full with 137 volunteers ready to assemble and package meals. A short Kick Off event had United Way Executive Director Jan Porath welcome and thank all volunteers and sponsors. Vicki Hoehn of Royal Credit Union addressed the crowd as 2015 United Way Campaign Chair. Vicki spoke about United Way's initiatives and announced United Way's campaign goal of 2.1 million. Denise Grikstas of UnitedHealthcare spoke next about UnitedHealthcare's support of the project, Day of Caring, and overall support of volunteerism. Finally, Austin Vogler of Mega! CO-OP spoke of Mega's long support of Day of Caring, and their record contribution of 660 sack lunches provided to volunteers this year.
At 9:15 A.M., the project began. Midwest Entertainment, who donated their DJ services, played music and rallied the volunteers. The energy was palpable as the meal packages quickly stacked up. Within 10 minutes, the first announcement was shouted out: "We've just reached 5,000 meals!" The volunteers cheered and seemed to find a new gear of energy.
In the end, in a little over two hours, 52,200 meals were packaged. Some of these meals went out the door into volunteer vehicles to be delivered to food pantries. The largest amount was loaded into a Feed My People truck for the largest amount to be distributed by them to the larger pantries and food programs. For United Way staff, and for all the volunteers who took part, it was a hugely rewarding experience to see pallet after pallet of food that will soon be warm and nutritious meals on the dinner tables of families who struggle every day.
Amazing Projects Accomplished in our Community
The Day of Caring project list this year was filled with red. "Red Projects" are those projects that require special skills and/or special tools and equipment. This year, Bolton Refuge House had flooring projects and garage door repairs needing to be done, tree removal, and power washing two of their locations. Meanwhile, Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association had a transitional home that needed a basement drop ceiling torn down. There were also several area residents in need--one who had two large dead trees in the back yard needing to be trimmed down, one who had a front door that badly needed to be powder-coated (a special kind of paint process in which a powdered paint is baked on), and an older couple whose front porch steps were crumbling away and needed to be replaced.
Much of this would not have been accomplished if not for the assistance of the Chippewa Valley Homebuilders Association. They offered their resources and connections to recruit volunteer crews from Ashley Construction, Brooks Home Renovation and Independent Flooring to handle many of these projects. Volunteers also came from A Barnes Cleaning, C & M Real Estate, Chippewa Valley Homebuilders Association and Gerhards to help out. When lumber was needed for the front steps project, Lyman Lumber donated what was needed.
Meanwhile, Zielie's Tree Service, a company who had donated volunteers and equipment to Day of Caring for years, spared a couple extra people to visit the residence of the person in need of the dead trees to be trimmed down. The rest of the Zielie's team were at the Boy Scouts Camp Brunswick location clearing trees to prepare the site for a future project.
A Day When Everyone Comes Together
Of course, so many amazing things happened on this day that the stories could never all be told on this site. Approximately 3,000 hours of volunteerism were given to our community on this day. Many volunteers learned more about organizations and their mission to serve our community. It is a day that, more than anything, demonstrates the true power of coming together and working together on a common goal. It is a clear example of how, working together, we can make the Chippewa Valley stronger.
Read Stories and See Pictures from Our 2015 Day of Caring