Archive for Thursday, September 13, 2001

United Way volunteers set to spruce up library grounds

September 13, 2001

After eight years, a United Way volunteer program will make its way to Eudora at the end of the month. The Saturday set aside for volunteer projects in Douglas County, known as Day of Caring, will bring volunteers to the Eudora Public Library to landscape the grounds.

Getting a volunteer site in Eudora and other areas of Douglas County outside Lawrence hasn't necessarily been easy.

"It's a little tougher to find it because we haven't had any programs there," said Michelle Heller, director of the Roger Hill Volunteer Center in Lawrence, a service of the United Way.

Last year, Day of Caring included 76 projects, and this year it involves 32 agencies ranging from the Red Cross to Youth Friends.

"If I expand it anymore, I'd have to be another person," Heller said.

It's easy to find volunteer sites in Lawrence, Heller said, because that's where many agencies are located.

"Several serve Eudora and Baldwin City residents such as Headquarters and Douglas County Senior Services, so helping them is in essence helping the communities of Eudora and Baldwin City," Heller said.

Picking a site for the event, like the Eudora Public Library, requires certain considerations.

"We don't match individuals with individuals," Heller said. "I can't just send people I don't know to someone's home."

She explained that individuals in need of basic home care, like yard work and cleaning, can get volunteers through Day of Caring if they talk to an agency, like an area church or civic group, that can send volunteers to the individual's home.

"Most businesses and churches and civil organizations do community service as part of their mission," Heller said. "They just need to know who needs help."

United Way can't necessarily offer volunteers to work on more complex areas like plumbing or electrical work.

"They're just projects the everyday person can do," Heller said.

The library, like other sites, will provide materials with which the volunteers can do their work.

"Since a lot of them are KU students, they don't come to college with saws and hammers," Heller said.

Day of Caring not only helps the people and agencies assisted by the projects, but it also allows volunteers to see what work awaits them in the community. Heller said Douglas County needs about 250 volunteers, most of the jobs requiring two to four hours a month.

Moreover, projects involve a variety of interests, from animals to senior citizens, from health to the environment, from children to mentoring.

Available projects require groups of two to 20 people, meaning almost any volunteer group can find a way to help out.

Those interested in volunteering can call the Roger Hill Volunteer Center at 865-5030 or log onto www.rhvc.org.

Heller encouraged Eudorans who have other projects in mind, like a park clean up, to organize them as well. However, she said she'd hoped to have projects confirmed by Sept. 10.

"They can call me, then they can just do it so we know what's going on all across Douglas County," Heller said.

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