Such activism lies at the heart of Friday’s inaugural “Day of Action,” which is an opportunity for employees to represent their civic-minded companies in the completion of good deeds for a variety of United Way of Bradley County Inc. member agencies and nonprofit partners.
Some 100 volunteers will work Friday morning at a handful of agencies in an array of tasks, and then will join another army of United Way volunteers and supporters for this year’s Campaign Kickoff Luncheon at the Cleveland Family YMCA.
The midday meal will be about launching United Way’s fall fundraising drive, but the morning will be dedicated to lending a physical hand to organizations that have limited budgets but unlimited needs.
Projects have been lined up at several of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland units (which are supported through United Way), the Home-Delivered Meals program, the Lee University Developmental Inclusive Classroom (LUDIC), the YMCA, the Bradley-Cleveland Community Services Agency and Head Start.
Companies whose workforce representatives are being deployed to these projects include Life Care Centers of America, Ace Hardware, P&G/Duracell, Cleveland Utilities, Target and Whirlpool.
One of the local businesses involved may have had a direct hand in jump-starting “Day of Action,” an event that United Way hopes will thrive in years to come — even to the point that project numbers eventually are doubled and tripled.
Patrick Long, United Way vice president of Development, points to the day that two Ace Hardware leaders came to the downtown agency to advise they wanted to get involved in a volunteer day. Cleveland store manager Randall Slack and Regional Marketing Director John Rutter told United Way they not only wanted to field a volunteer team, but the company wanted to underwrite the costs toward materials needed in each of the “Day of Action” projects.
“Ace is really going above and beyond to make this a successful event,” Long told our newspaper.
Truly, the company considers itself a community servant, as evidenced by the fact that for years Ace has extended its United Way commitment by using an annual weekend in which a percent of sales are donated to the much respected nonprofit organization.
Even with this company commitment and the workforce’s own pledges, Ace asked to do more; hence, the startup of “Day of Action.” Other companies, who also are longtime United Way supporters, stepped up as well. United Way limited the number of teams to the number of projects available.
But this is merely Year One.
Year Two holds promise for even more. Year Three prides itself on the potential for additional growth. And Year Four, and beyond? To quote from a vintage cliche, “The sky’s the limit.”
It is critical to point out, as United Way President and CEO Matt Ryerson cited, the key word about “Day of Action” is “opportunity.”
These confirmed projects are only those strategized by United Way and its many partners. Others exist such as in area schools, churches or other nonprofit organizations. They are simply in the finding, and the asking.
Perhaps this is a good time to remind community residents of United Way’s new Volunteer Center. It is a website that links willing volunteers with nonprofit needs. It can be accessed at www.volunteerocoee.org.
Whatever the cause, whomever the recipient, “Day of Action” is a golden opportunity.
There’s still time to make a connection, whether it’s with a United Way member agency and working partner, or another organization.
Need is need.
And the best people to fill a need is ... people.