Working hard for United Way’s kickoff

WHEELING – Cathy Brown was delighted as she stood among a throng of volunteers bustling about Wheeling Health Right on Wednesday during the 22nd-annual Upper Ohio Valley United Way Day of Caring.

“We love this day,” Brown said as volunteers from American Electric Power, Citizens Bank, Health Plan, Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack and Main Street Bank continued their labors about 11 a.m. “We get so much extra work done.”

According to Brown, the clinic received 30 or more volunteers who performed tasks ranging from yard work to electrical work and painting. She said her staff rarely finds time to do many of these tasks.

Wheeling Area Training Center for the Handicapped Director Kurt Benedict agreed, as volunteers from Williams Partners worked to clean and repaint the men’s restroom at the facility.

“You can’t ask for a better group,” Benedict said. “They’re helping paint; I didn’t even ask them to clean, but they just went ahead and did.”

The Day of Caring is a yearly event that allows companies with employees the opportunity to go out and volunteer their time to help in their communities.

Williams employee Kathy Hughes said the workers are still getting paid for the time they work. In essence, she said, the companies are donating their labor for the day.

“It’s just like we’re on site working,” Hughes said as she painted trim around the ceilings. “We can’t wait to come back next year. It’s a very, very rewarding experience.”

At the Salvation Army on 16th Street, the sales racks and displays were pushed out of the thrift store so volunteers could lay down a new coat of paint.

Wheeling Jesuit University employee Becky Forney said she has been volunteering for about 12 years and finds the Day of Caring events especially rewarding.

“It’s a chance to do something for the community, and Sept. 11 is a national day of service,” Forney said. “And it’s fun to be with your co-workers and get to see a job through to its completion in a single day.”

Joseph Hays, a retired painter now working at Cabela’s, put his skills to good use and helped make sure the Salvation Army job got done right.

“I think it’s wonderful to see so many people getting together to help the community,” Hays said.

George Krupica of Main Street Bank echoed Forney’s sentiments and said volunteers provide local social organizations with a day to breathe.

“It’s a lot of work for a good cause,” Krupica said. “The thing is they would never get this done otherwise.”

More than 300 volunteers filled the WesBanco Arena Club Room earlier that morning as Kroger provided a continental breakfast and United Way leaders gave speeches of thanks and encouragement.

“I can’t tell you how much your help is appreciated,” Health Plan employee and United Way board of directors Chairwoman Patti Fast said just before sending the volunteers out to work for the day. “I would just like to thank each and every one of you.”