BY BARRY WARNER
Recently, the United Way of Rockland’s 25th ‘Fall Day of Caring’ brought together more than 200 volunteers to complete essential projects for Rockland County’s nonprofit health and human service providers. The completion of these projects empowered the community services to better serve thousands of people. Celebrated as the largest single-day community service event, the ‘Fall Day of Caring’ mobilized a collective force for positive action with the United Way as its support. Volunteer teams from local schools and companies worked together to reach a shared goal of improving the lives of individuals and families in need.
“We’re honored that so many businesses, schools and nonprofits have chosen to be part of the United Way of Rockland’s Fall Day of Caring, one of Rockland’s largest one-day volunteer event,” President and CEO of United Way of Rockland Dana Treacy told the Rockland County Times. “This is an all-around great day for the volunteers who’re helping so many of the nonprofits complete projects that will positively affect the people they serve. Many of the groups have chosen to be part of the ‘Day of Caring’ for the past 10-20 years. This is truly a community Living United.”
There was a lunch and rally at Palisades Credit Union Park to applaud the hundreds of volunteers for their service. The crowd included elected officials, representatives from Rockland businesses and school groups. Afterwards, the teams proceeded to their various projects at local nonprofits.
“I wanted the students to see that volunteers come from all walks of life,” said Amanda Younghans, advisor to the Clarkstown High School South United Way Club. “Some of the students will be going to Meals on Wheels to stock the shelves and to put together winter baskets, while others will be going to People to People to hang clothes.”
The project locations and numbers of volunteers included YAI/RCALD (M&T Bank-14); Meals on Wheels (UPS-11); Meals on Wheels (Clarkstown High School South-17); Homes for Heroes (GENON-10); Conway House/Loeb (Pomona Preservation Party-12); Rockland Farm Alliance (TD Bank-15); Birthright (Haverstraw Center-6); Keep Rockland Beautiful (Greater Hudson Bank-15); Visions (Pfizer-15); ARC (St. Thomas Aquinas College-10); People to People (Clarkstown High School South-10); Center for Safety and Change (PDI-8) and VCS (Haverstraw Center-6).
The activities included repairing and painting a fence, mounting shelves, raising garden beds for a children’s garden, power washing a deck, washing windows, labeling pie boxes, cleaning and winterizing a garden, packing and moving clothing, landscaping, doing a stock inventory, sorting and organizing clothing plus cleaning and organizing a basement at a residential building.
The Clothes Closet provides People to People clients with warm coats, school clothes, onesies for newborns and professional outfits for job seekers. The Clothes Closet is stocked with clean and gently-used clothing donated by hundreds of caring Rockland residents. “We have a group of students coming here from Clarkstown High School South and what they’re going to do is to go through the donated clothing, which has to be sorted and put on hangers,” explained People to People Executive Director Diane Serratore, “The ‘Day of Caring’ benefits us greatly because we don’t have a lot of staff here, but we need a great deal of work to be done. The more volunteer opportunities we can identify, the better off we will be. We appreciate the United Way organizing this day, because it shows how important volunteers are to this county.”
The holiday season is about spending time with family and friends and realizing how important it is to ‘pay it forward’ to those in need. Whether a volunteer gives time at an animal shelter, uses a hammer for Habitat for Humanity or mentors at-risk children, helping a worthy cause is a compassionate thing to do. There are many benefits to volunteering that can support personal goals and make the person happier for having helped. The winter holiday season often sees an increase in attendance at soup and shelter kitchens. These facilities not only provide warm food, but also shelter when the winter weather is most difficult for the homeless. The increase in volunteerism is not only because of available time, but because the holidays remind us of how lucky we are, as well as point to those individuals who are not as fortunate.