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Joyce Endee

More than 200 take part in Day of Caring

As volunteers such as Kendra Arruda from Pike Industries in Tilton scraped the porch of the Carey House in Laconia, Carolyn Guadet of Tilton Auto Serv and Doug Carinan of Melcher and Prescott Insurance in Meredith and Laconia helped lug shrubbery being cut away from windows at the shelter to increase security for the facility. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
September 14, 2011
REGION — As the sun finally came out in Central New Hampshire last Friday, more than 200 workers also spread some sunshine to more than 26 non-profit organizations across the region, from Belmont and Laconia to Alton and Wolfeboro, up north to Meredith, and even Plymouth as the United Way's 19th annual Day of Caring got underway.

Begun in 1995, the United Way Day of Caring has grown each year, from the initial 40 volunteers to the more than 200 men and women who participated this year. Through their community service, more than 80 projects at local nonprofit organizations and agencies were completed in one day.

The morning began with breakfasts hosted by Hannaford Supermarkets in Alton, Plymouth and Laconia. At each location, volunteers from area businesses enjoyed a bite to eat, dropped off canned goods for local food pantries, then rolled up their sleeves and headed out to work. Each volunteer was assigned an agency to assist for the day, depending on skills they said they could provide.

An ambitious group gathered at the Carey House on the corner of Spring Street and Union Avenue in Laconia to help with what began as a few painting projects. After getting a tour of the Salvation Army's homeless shelter and seeing other needs along the way, they eagerly took on more work than the facility had even requested. When House Director Glen Carter commented about overgrown shrubs that had become a security problem, Kamal Gosine of Auto Serv in Tilton didn't hesitate.

"I have a chain saw at home, and I don't live far from here. Why don't we just take care of that today?" Gosine said.

As he headed out for extra equipment, the team divided up to get busy with staining an ark in the backyard play area, painting the sign along the street and scraping and painting the front porch.

Returning with a saw, Gosine, his co-workers at Auto Serv, and volunteers from Melcher and Prescott Insurance, Pike Industries and the Tilton Shaw's supermarket then began trimming the shrubs below the first floor windows. Realizing the shrubbery would only grow back and cover the windows again, Gilford resident Dorothy Savery of Franklin Savings Bank asked if the crew could remove them completely and plant new shrubs and flowers. Soon she was off to buy them as her gift to the shelter, while others began to weed gardens around the building — another project not on the list. And while a free lunch from the Salvation Army was provided, the team all made cash donations for their meal.

"I pay for lunch every day, so why should this be different?" said one volunteer.

Up the road, Belknap Landscape Company of Gilford was hard at work removing invasive plants from a Laconia Area Community Land Trust housing complex. They added mulch to flower beds, and also repaired a drainage issue with decorative but functional stone to prevent erosion.

"Last year alone, Belknap Landscape donated about $2,500 to United Way, something we've always helped with, but today, we had a chance to help with labor and materials, too," said marketing manager Dale Squires.

Over on Church Street, volunteers from Meredith Savings Bank, 3M in Tilton and Metrocast in Belmont were busy making pies for senior residents of Stafford House and Sunrise Towers. Some pies were special ordered by residents, and others were frozen for upcoming holiday meals.

"These ladies have the patience of saints, and I really appreciate their help today. It's wonderful," said Stafford House Residents Services Coordinator Julie Joslyn.

At Corner House on Union Avenue, others were freshening up the interior of the day-use facility. Volunteers from Franklin Savings Bank, Laconia Savings Bank, 3M, Munsey and Brazil Insurance and students from Laconia High School stretched and stooped to brighten the rooms with paint brushes and rollers. As she worked, Jean O'Rourke of Munsey and Brazil had been doing some calculations in her head.

"If you volunteer two days a year for 15 years, it may seem like a lot, but it's really only about one-percent of a lifetime, and that doesn't seem like enough to me," she said.

In Plymouth, Whole Village Family Resource Center was another beehive of activity both indoors and out, as wish lists all across Central New Hampshire were being fulfilled. In Alexandria, a barn floor was laid by an industrious group of women to further a tool museum project for the historical society, and in Belmont, the senior center was spruced up, and goody bags were prepared for Meals on Wheels clients. The Mayhew Program in Bristol had assistance closing their youth camp for the year, and Chapman Sanctuary in Sandwich had some much needed trail work done.

"How wonderful to work for companies that support the United Way. We really enjoy their support in letting us all come out for the day to help these nonprofits. It's been great," said New Hampton resident Jane MacDonald of Northway Bank.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
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