Day of Action a chance to serve community

On June 21, tens of thousands of people across the planet will volunteer to spend a day in service to their community. It is a day when they will step in unison and fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. A worldwide movement that will result in magnificent impact and tangible results in one single day. It will happen in large metropolitan areas, city centers and communities dotted all around the globe. Perhaps most excitedly in my mind, it will happen right here in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Members of our community will once again have the opportunity to join with those around the word for a day of action. Day of Action 2019 is just around the corner and we can’t wait.

United Way’s Day of Action provides opportunities for volunteers, donors and advocates to be a part of solutions that make a real difference in people’s lives. It is an opportunity to give of yourself…to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Local businesses and organizations will take part by coordinating teams of employees to spend a day giving back to area non-profit agencies. Last year, over 200 volunteers from about 10 businesses and organizations completed nearly 30 projects at more than 20 non-profit agencies and schools in our community. Volunteer teams painted facilities, assisted with landscape projects, repaired fencing, planted a community garden and more. One team washed and detailed the small fleet of vans that services seniors in our area, one team sorted donations for a clothing closet that helps to outfit at risk women returning to the workforce. Some of those projects might on the surface appear routine, even mundane. You might think about a private sector workplace and say “landscaping? that happens every spring in our office…” or “painting the office? Well, maintenance comes in every other year and does that…what’s the big deal?” To a nonprofit, these projects are a big deal. Nonprofits nearly always exhaust their budgets on the mission, the programming and the people they serve. They struggle to have the funds for what you may have never considered as “extras”: landscaping, painting, etc. Even when the funds are available for the supplies, the ability to designate the man power is nearly impossible for many. They run on skeleton staffs, and while they nearly all have a corps of volunteers, it takes those volunteer efforts just to deliver the programming. Beyond that, many volunteers are retired seniors who may not be well suited to help with physical labor initiative projects. Too often there are just not the hours in the day or the resources at hand to make these projects a reality. Until a mammoth effort like Day of Action. A day when the organized and mobilized efforts of those who want to serve can deliver results that fill the hearts of these service organizations with gratitude and encouragement.

The projects come in all shapes and sizes. Many are hands on, physical labor tasks. Some are organizational projects — perhaps helping to organize a donation storage area or sorting supplies to help ensure efficient delivery of services. Last year a food packing event helped to place 3700 shelf stable backpack kits into the hands of programs that work diligently to ensure that no child spends a weekend wondering where their next meal will come from. The project can involve a large team for an entire day, a group of friends for three hours, or an individual who says “I can give an hour that day? What can I do to help?” No amount of time is without impact potential. No service is insignificant. Every single person in the MOV has an opportunity to make a difference on this day. Imagine the impact if we call gave of ourselves on this day…just one day for others.

Some people will serve on this day and discover that they have a previously unrecognized heart or service. They will find a niche and continue to give of their time and energy. Others will recognize the value of the day and continue to participate year after year. Some will even connect to a program or cause in our community and decide to become a donor. Everyone will process the day in their own way, but I do not believe one person will step away untouched. I don’t believe anyone will look back on the time they give and think it was wasteful. Making a difference feels good. Stepping out of your typical daily routine is rewarding and refreshing. The benefits are not felt only by the agencies served. Often they are felt more intensely by those serving. It is good for your team. It is fun for your friend group. Most of all it is simply fulfilling in your soul.

Work teams are forming now and it’s not too late to get involved. Contact our office to find out how you can be a part of what we believe will be our most impactful Day of Action ever. This year’s event is being sponsored by WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center. Last year Camden Clark sent four work teams into the community and they are committed to that kind of amazing impact once again. They are helping us to outfit our work teams and will host a kick off breakfast on the day of the event. Just another example of the great things that happen when we step together. Together we can do so much more…together we can reach so far. Join us on June 21. Let’s create an unforgettable Day of Action for our community. Let’s step together to take the actions that makes our community a better place.

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Stacy DeCicco is the executive director of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

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