About 1,100 volunteers — a record number — happily spent the day painting, landscaping and cleaning at local nonprofits Friday during United Way of Southwestern Indiana’s 24th Annual Day of Caring.
For a team of 35 employees at Berry Global, the day presented an opportunity to spend time with a cherished neighbor. The group worked at St. Vincent Center for Children and Families at First Avenue and Delaware Street, a few blocks from Berry’s worldwide headquarters.
Berry employees have done a lot over the years at St. Vincent, everything from installing parking lot speed bumps to reading to children. The weather on Friday was perfect for tasks such as laying mulch, planting flowers and trimming. Employees of Energy Systems Group, a Vectren subsidiary, joined the force from Berry.
“It’s giving back to the community,” said Mary Reese, human resources director at Berry Global. “And we love this place here. We partner with them a lot and do a lot of things.”
For nonprofits, the interior and exterior work is more than just a neighborly sign of goodwill.
“All of the agencies are so grateful to the volunteers who come out for this,” said Kim Mulfinger, executive director of St. Vincent Center for Children and Families. “These are services that our over-extended staff can’t do, or we have to pay to get done. So it allows us to put those resources back into our programming.”
The 1,100 volunteers on Friday spent a few hours at Evansville Christian Life Center, Carver Community Organization and a host of other agencies. The Day of Caring also opened the United Way of Southwestern Indiana’s 2017 campaign, which seeks to raise $4.2 million.
An early morning breakfast on Friday for the volunteers brought news that $1.49 million of this year’s goal already has been raised, courtesy of this year’s United Way Pacesetter companies.
Those funds will help nonprofits in Vanderburgh, Warrick and Spencer counties in areas of health, education, financial stability and essential services.
United Way officials on Friday announced recipients of Impact Grants, altogether totaling $250,000, which will help local residents pursue greater self-sufficiency. The Impact Grants program is a new United Way endeavor that encourages new approaches to helping local residents, said Matt Theby, chairman of the United Way’s Self-Suffiency Committee. The grants went to programs offered by Youth First, United Methodist Youth Home, Evansville Public Education Foundation and Evansville Christian Life Center. United Way officials fired up the volunteer troops during Friday morning’s celebratory breakfast.
“What you are about to do today is an amazing part of the United Way experience,” said Kevin Koch, the 2017 campaign chairman. “You’re going to make a positive difference.”