Voluteers Give Back to Area Not-for-Profits

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on August 31, 2010 with No Comments

By Carl Kurek

Live United.

Give. Advocate. Volunteer.

These are the mottos that United Way Worldwide, the leadership and support organization for the network of nearly 1,800 community-based United Ways in 45 countries and territories, promotes to citizens across the globe.

The United ways of Lake and Porter counties carried out their third annual United Way Regional Day of Caring this past Friday and Saturday. The event is billed by organizers as the largest gathering of volunteers in Northwest Indiana.

“We have over 1,800 volunteers in Lake and Porter County that will complete special one-day projects for nearly 80 different non-profit organizations,” Robert K. Scott, vice president for marketing and communications for Lake Area United Way, said.

Both counties started things off with a Kickoff Breakfast at separate locations where hundreds of volunteers gathered before heading out to their project sites. United Way of Porter County had their breakfast at Strongbow Inn in Valparaiso, while Lake Area United Way held their breakfast in the gymnasium of Campagna Academy in Schererville. This year, 138 teams of volunteers completed projects for 48 organizations throughout Northwest Indiana.

Some of the organizations that reaped the benefits of the day’s services included the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portage, South Haven, Chesterton and East Chicago, Lakeshore Area Regional Recovery of Indiana and Opportunity Enterprises of Valparaiso.

“Our theme for this year’s Day of Caring is ‘Raise the Bar,’” Kathy Wojkovich of United Way Regional Volunteer Center said. “This is truly a wonderful way to lend a helping hand and to collectively change our community for the better.”

BEHR provided all of the paint for the volunteers to use in the efforts at locations around Northwest Indiana.

The Federal Indicator in Washington, D.C. currently rates the value of a volunteer hour at $20.85 an hour, so after calculating everything, the United Way Day of Caring volunteers will have donated over $168,885.

“This is just a way for us to give a helping hand to the not-for-profits who serve us so richly, especially in these hard economic times,” Chris Eller Esparza, Lake County volunteer coordinator, said.

Pamela Lowe, the wife of Indiana University Northwest Chancellor William J. Lowe was also in attendance, volunteering her time with the Urban League of Northwest Indiana team.

“We’re new to the community so I wanted to emerge myself in an organization I truly believed in,” Lowe said.

The Urban League of Northwest Indiana was going to spend the day painting, preparing donated back-to-school supplies and helping out local food pantries. Vanessa Allen, president and CEO of the Urban League of Northwest Indiana said that the group was glad to have Lowe as a part of their team.

Many local businesses organized teams of volunteers to take part in the days’ activities. Diane Stall and Dena Conn of Citizens Financial Bank were anxious to help out the not-for-profits in the areas, as were Ray Miranda and Ray Ojeda who represented BP’s Whiting Refinery.

“We’ve been doing this for 25 years,” Miranda said. “We’ve been as far south as Florida and as far north as Alaska. It’s just what we do.”

Miranda said that it normally just takes one person bringing up the idea of volunteering to get a lot of people on board, and it was no different for the employees of the refinery.

“We’re thankful we have the job we have and it just feels like the right thing to do,” Miranda said.

“I’ve always done volunteer work. It’s a good way to give back to the community and its good representation for BP,” he added.

For more information about the Lake Area United Way, call 219-923-2302, or visit www.lauw.org. For more information about the United Way of Porter County, call 219-464-3583 or visit www.unitedwaypc.org.

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