Volunteer Andrew Harris of Bank of Tennessee cuts brush on the side of one of the trails through Girl Scouts Camp Wildwood on Thursday morning during the bank's activities at the camp as part of the annual United Way Week of Caring. (Tony Duncan/ Johnson
The United Way’s annual Week of Caring is in full swing at nonprofit service agencies across the Tri-Cities, including Johnson City, where volunteer teams from United Way companies are turning out for parties and picnics for the elderly and disabled, putting their backs into work details at summer youth programming sites, collecting food for the Salvation Army shelter and more.
Now in its 21st year, the Regional Week of Caring sponsored by Regions Bank kicked off Monday at the Boys and Girls Club of the Mountain Empire in Bristol, where dozens of volunteers from the staff and advisory boards of the United Way agencies in Washington, Sullivan and Carter counties and Southwest Virginia Highlands joined forces to paint the club building, scrub down its buses and landscape its grounds.
“It was a good opportunity for all of us to get together,” said Lester Lattany, president and CEO of the United Way, who spent the day spreading his share of paint. “Thank goodness it was a small building, and with the paint roller extensions you could actually reach the top of it without a ladder. The rain held off. The paint dried quickly. And it turned out real well.”
In Johnson City, the Week of Caring projects got under way Wednesday with volunteers form the Johnson City Power Board joining the elderly and disabled clients at Adult Day Services in a daylong fiesta with food and games and other Mexican-flavored fun, and at the Salvation Army, where Citi volunteers helped the army’s staff spread a picnic lunch for about 60 regular participants in the army’s weekly Senior Program.
The heavy labor began Thursday at the Girls Scouts’ Camp Wildwood, where a team of volunteers from Bank of Tennessee spent the morning clearing limbs and a couple of fallen trees from the trails that run through the five-acre camp.
At the nearby Frontier Health Adventure Program, a second Bank of Tennessee team weeded, mulched and re-planted the flower bed that surrounds the sign at the entrance to the intensive therapy center for teens.
On the value of their work, Frontier therapist Nina Kibbler Hancock said, “As a staff member who has worked for years with clients with mental health and substance abuse issues, it’s important for them to know that someone in the community cares.”
“Beautification projects like this and the picnics they’ve had in the past with the clients and everyone show that. It’s gorgeous. And for me personally, every time I look at our sign I’m reminded there are people out there who care.”
The caring work will continue today with volunteers from Citi teaming up for a season-opening refurbishment of the grounds at Frontier Health’s Greenwood Challenge Ropes Course, where the Adventure Program teens take part in personal accomplishment and team-building exercises.
Today, a group from Eastman will spend helping out at Johnson City/Washington County Boys & Girls Club. At the Salvation Army, volunteers from Target will be putting their backs into a large round of weeding, mulching, planting and tree trimming. And at the Mall at Johnson City, the community is invited to join in a food drive for the Salvation Army shelter that will continue through Sunday.
Donations of canned meats, vegetables, soups, fruit and milk, dried beans, pasta, rice, cereal and grits, crackers, snacks, juice and bottled water are all needed and may be dropped off at the customer service desk on the mall’s lower level.
Lattany said the Week of Caring projects give community residents and businesses an opportunity to work together in hands-on projects that allow them to see first-hand the value of services the United Way partner agencies provide.
With companies and their employees, students, teachers and other community-minded citizens all focused on “making lasting changes right here where we live,” Lattany said, many projects that benefit the agencies and strengthen the community are accomplished.