Charles County or­ga­ni­za­tions help non­prof­its on Day of Car­ing

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com

Work of­ten comes at a steep cost and for many non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, that price is too high for them to af­ford the proper staffing to get certain projects done.

That is why ser­vices pro­vided on the United Way’s Na­tional Day of Car­ing — held last Thurs­day around Charles County — when busi­nesses take the day off from their reg­u­lar du­ties to go do vol­un­teer work for non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, is so im­por­tant to so many peo­ple.

Brenda DiCarlo, the di­rec­tor of the Catholic Char­i­ties South­ern Mary­land Food Bank in Wal­dorf, said that is why the day is so essential. With­out the help of vol­un­teer ser­vices on days like this, many things may take longer to get done or may not get done at all be­cause of the other work that needs to be done.

The food bank will gen­er­ally open its doors to more vol­un­teers when it has projects that need to be com­pleted. This year, the food bank had

Ex­elon, an en­ergy pro­vid­ing com­pany, come and work on land­scap­ing the food banks gar­den and front lawn.

“We can’t do these kind of projects dur­ing the course of the day so when these kind of projects come up we can pretty up the place,” DiCarlo said. “It re­ally does help us. It’ll be good to wel­come clients now.”

Em­ploy­ees from the Univer­sity of Mary­land Charles Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter paid a visit to the Jude House to straighten up a shed, land­scape a gar­den and paint some walls in the wings of the house.

Erik Boas, the chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer for the med­i­cal cen­ter who par­tic­i­pated, said it al­ways feels like “ab­so­lutely the right thing to do” to par­tic­i­pate dur­ing the day and help where they can.

“It’s a great team build­ing ex­er­cise and it helps us get out in the com­mu­nity,” Boas said.

Pam An­der­son, an em­ployee for the hos­pi­tal since 2008, said she be­lieves get­ting out and vol­un­teer­ing helps the hos­pi­tal and other or­ga­ni­za­tions build re­la­tion­ships with each other.

“That’s im­por­tant. Es­pe­cially to­day, it’s im­por­tant to build re­la­tion­ships,” An­der­son said.

Mem­bers of the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice also pitched in dur­ing the Day of Car­ing, help­ing with var­i­ous con­struc­tion, paint­ing and land­scap­ing projects at Lions Camp Mer­rick in Nan­je­moy, a camp pri­mar­ily for deaf or vis­ually–im­paired chil­dren and adults.

“It’s re­ward­ing to do, know­ing what the cause is,” said sher­iff’s of­fice Capt. Gary Sum­mers. “We had a good group of mo­ti­vated peo­ple down there ... Even though we all work for the sher­iff’s of­fice, we don’t al­ways get to work shoul­der to shoul­der with each

other, be­cause of our as­sign­ments, so be­ing able to come to­gether in the com­mu­nity for a good cause was a great thing.”

At the Hu­mane So­ci­ety of Charles County, ap­prox­i­mately one dozen vol­un­teers from Mel­wood worked on a num­ber of tasks, in­clud­ing sort­ing through old crates, clear­ing out sheds, rak­ing leaves and re­mov­ing ac­cu­mu­lated de­bris, said Starla Rai­born, the so­ci­ety’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

“This is awe­some to have such a large group of peo­ple to come out and get our big projects knocked out pretty quickly,” Rai­born said. “We are a non­profit com­pletely sup­ported by the com­mu­nity, so we need vol­un­teers to ac­com­plish al­most every­thing that we do. With­out large groups like this com­ing in, a lot of these big projects get put to the side.”

Mel­wood is it­self a non­profit, which works to find op­por­tu­ni­ties in the com­mu­nity for in­di­vid­u­als of dif­fer­ing abil­i­ties.

“As non­prof­its in Charles County, we tend to get very fo­cused on our own mis­sion, our own value, ‘We have to do this for us’, so for us to be able to take a day for us to say, ‘Mel­wood’s not go­ing to get touched.’ We can spare a day, we’ve got to go help an­other non­profit in the area, is re­ally im­por­tant to me,” said Daria Fleisher, Mel­wood pro­gram di­rec­tor. “For our guys with dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties, we want them to get out and be a part of the com­mu­nity, see what other peo­ple in the com­mu­nity are do­ing, and re­ally in­vest in giv­ing back.”

Next door, at the Tri-County Youth Ser­vices Bureau, vol­un­teers from the Charles County Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and Wal­dorf ac­count­ing firm Askey, Askey and As­so­ciates did land­scap­ing, gar­den­ing and grounds cleanup, while vol­un­teers from the non­profit Spring Dell Cen­ter, which con­nects in­di­vid­u­als with dis­abil­i­ties to the com­mu­nity, left in­for­ma­tional book­marks on cars in nearby shop­ping cen­ters, said Lau­rel James, Tri-County Youth Ser­vices Bureau ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

“We fig­ured we’d do some out­reach and send some in­for­ma­tion out,” James said.

James said the or­ga­ni­za­tion, which pro­vides sup­port, job skills train­ing, in­ter­view prepa­ra­tion and other sup­port for young adults, said the Day of Car­ing not only helps pro­vide ser­vices the bureau can­not al­ways af­ford but also helps the bureau spread the word.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity to talk to the vol­un­teers about the work that we do,” James said.

Russell Yates, trea­surer of the Charles County Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, said giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity is part of what the or­ga­ni­za­tion is about.

“We want to give back to our com­mu­nity. Part of it is about build­ing aware­ness of the [Demo­cratic] Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and what it does, and part of it ob­vi­ously is to re­turn ser­vices to the com­mu­nity,” Yates said. “The Youth Ser­vices Bureau has a need, they asked for vol­un­teers to help out, their needs match our skill set, and so we are here to help out.”

While the Spring Dell Cen­ter vol­un­teers, in­di­vid­u­als with de­vel­op­ment dis­or­ders sup­ported by staff mem­bers, had a great time help­ing out and dis­tribut­ing hun­dreds of fliers, their par­tic­i­pa­tion also helped them de­velop vo­ca­tional skills and team­work needed to be­come more self–suf­fi­cient, while also help­ing the com­mu­nity.

“What we get most out of the Day of Car­ing is that, it gives us an op­por­tu­nity as a non­profit to give back to the com­mu­nity,” said Shee­bah Smith, di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing and de­vel­op­ment. “Our main goal [at Spring Dell Cen­ter] is to get peo­ple into the com­mu­nity and con­nected with em­ploy­ment and dif­fer­ent com­mu­nity op­por­tu­ni­ties. It helps us help them de­velop the skills like, cus­tomer ser­vice, peo­ple–cen­tered skills, co­op­er­a­tion, team­work. So, when they do go out to find jobs that they have those skills,” adding that this event was an­other op­por­tu­nity for them to gain more work ex­pe­ri­ence.

While its typ­i­cal for the area’s civic groups to sup­port the event, “this year, there was more in­di­vid­ual com­mu­nity mem­bers com­ing out and I think that’s what made it ex­tra spe­cial this year,” Smith noted. “And it would be won­der­ful to see more com­mu­nity mem­bers, as the event con­tin­ues to grow and ex­pand through the com­mu­nity, get in­volved.”

“I’m sure that many non­prof­its, like Spring Dell Cen­ter, are al­ways open to peo­ple who want to get in­volved,” she con­tin­ued. “So, don’t just let this be the one day that you go out and sup­port these or­ga­ni­za­tions, make sure that you have your hands in the com­mu­nity and that you’re work­ing to make that difference.”

Speak­ing of work­ing to make a difference, the Charles County Chil-

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Mem­bers of the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice lent a help­ing hand at Lions Camp Mer­rick in Nan­je­moy, a camp specif­i­cally for chil­dren and adults who are deaf or vis­ually–im­paired.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Above. Russell Yates and Carmella Davis Watkins of the Charles County Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee per­form gar­den­ing ac­tiv­i­ties while vol­un­teer­ing at the Tri-County Youth Ser­vices Bureau. Be­low, Mel­wood vol­un­teers Yadira Cole­man and Mandy Dominelli sort through old bird­cages to find the ones that are still us­able while vol­un­teer­ing at the Hu­mane So­ci­ety of Charles County dur­ing the United Way of Charles County’s Day of Car­ing Thurs­day.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Zach Hamil­ton of the ac­count­ing firm Askey, Askey and As­so­ciates per­forms weed­ing while vol­un­teer­ing at the Tri-County Youth Ser­vices Bureau, as part of the Day of Car­ing Thurs­day.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Sher­iff’s Lt. Ben Voorhaar hauls wood through Lions Camp Mer­rick as he and other of­fi­cers un­der­take var­i­ous con­struc­tion projects dur­ing a Day of Car­ing.

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