Charles County organizations help nonprofits on Day of Caring
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-
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.
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.
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.
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.