Stillwater News Press

Local News

September 20, 2012

Stillwater residents take part in annual community service day by United Way

STILLWATER, Okla. — More than 350 people, representing 30 to 40 groups, were part of an annual tradition of community service on Thursday.

After partaking in a provided breakfast held at Sirloin Stockade, hundreds of volunteers spread out across Stillwater to lend a hand as part of the United Way Day of Caring. Volunteers worked at various United Way partner agencies and client’s homes.

Volunteer Mary Jo Self, working with a group from the College of Education at Oklahoma State University, said the work is important.

“I think it’s important that we give back to our community and these are the organizations that take care of many, many things in our community and help with stuff and kind of are the safety net for people,” she said. “I think it’s important that our community recognizes that and our community does what we can on days like today to help those different entities.”

Self has participated for a total of about seven years in the Day of Caring. She assisted in painting the exterior rear wall of Judith Karmen Hospice Thursday. Other group members cleaned medical equipment and painted the front of the building.

“They make a list of what they need and we come and do what they have on their list,” she said.

Self’s father was a recipient of Hospice care before he died.

“Sometimes we are busy about our lives and we forget about those groups,” Self said. “I’ve been on the receiving side of Hospice now two or three times with various family members, so I was really excited when I saw we were coming to Hospice because I know the importance of that particular service to people and their families in the last stages of life, so I was excited about that.”

A few blocks away at the Salvation Army, a few groups, including Armstrong and Stillwater Medical Center, worked hard. Donna Walter said the day gives her an opportunity to give back to the community and she enjoys doing it.

“Today, we trimmed the trees, we’re spreading gravel in the back,” she said. “They’re replacing the front door on the building here and they’ve painted around the trim around the windows and things to clean it all up. And then, they’re doing some more tree trimming a couple blocks down for some more Salvation Army stuff.”

She said she was unaware of the Day of Caring until she went to work for Armstrong. However, she began donating to United Way since her grandfather passed away.

“It makes your heart feel good,” Walter said. “You should do it.”

The YMCA also saw it’s fair share of renovations by two or three groups, including the OSU Foundation. Representatives Erin Barry and Jim Berscheidt worked to cut out new ceiling tiles.

“It’s exciting,” Barry said. “It’s fulfilling. It’s enjoyable to be able to do it with our staff members and it’s exciting to be able to see how many of our staff members volunteer every year. We normally have a group of over 20 that want to come out and help the community.”

Barry has been a part of Day of Caring for about eight years. Berscheidt is in his second year.

“I came to the foundation about a year and a half ago and I used to do a lot of volunteer work where I used to live,” he said. “I just try to get involved in the community whenever possible, so since they already had this in place, I thought it was a great way to help out.”

On the west side of town, Camp Sylvia Stapley was the recipient of needed repairs by students of a leadership class at Meridian Technology Center.

“Right now, we’ve got six different groups doing various projects,” said volunteer Seth Welliver. “I’m working with a group to re-mulch the trails (because) some of them washed out.”

Other volunteers painted lodges, cut tree limbs and cleaned restrooms.

“It’s very busy,” he said. “It’s very sweaty. It’s a lot of work; a lot of good work.”

Welliver said there were close to 40 people on site. This project is the first his class had done this year.

Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator at Meridian Technology Center Cara Adney said that not only is the work going to help future users of the camp, but it teaches the students a valuable lesson.

“I think one of the most important things is that we’re teaching them to become leaders,” Adney said.

“And being a leader is doing the right thing, it means being a role model and it also means giving back.”

United Way Executive Director Sheri Carter said she believes the day was a huge success.

“We had perfect weather,” she said. “We had great effort from all of the volunteers. People would finish up at one project and say, ‘Where do we go now?’”

Carter said she has received photos and emails from agencies and clients thanking them for the hard work.

“I think it’s important to remind folks that live here that this is our community and our home and when we take care of everyone, it makes us a whole better place,” she said.

She hopes that anyone who volunteered for the Day of Caring might consider volunteering again.

“The needs are here year round and I think this is a good one-day picture of what these agencies do every day,” she said.

For more information on volunteering at United Way agencies, call 377-2161.

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