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United Way’s Day of Caring

A whimsical mural created for children at Women’s Empowerment.

90 volunteer projects with United Way’s certified nonprofit partners were completed across five counties on Friday for United Way’s Day of Caring, celebrating the 90th anniversary of United Way. All of the work was done by 350  volunteers to kick off the fall fundraising campaign.

Two of four local projects are highlighted below.

Women’s Empowerment – 10 volunteers created a progressive sculpture in the child care center for children who are homeless.

40 volunteers spruced up the playground and garden for families in transitional housing at the Salvation Army’s Transitional Living Center.

"Today is United Way’s first Day of Caring and everyone is engaged in volunteer projects with 26 agencies across the Sacramento region," Lisa Culp, Executive Director of Women’s Empowerment. "Women’s Empowerment is fortunate enough to be one of the volunteer projects."

She explained that a 3-D mural will be created in this space out here where there is room for children to play. The work is being done by Nationwide Insurance volunteers.

Artist rendering of 3-D mural
"But there is no artwork or anything that is inspiring for the children," Culp explained. "So today they are creating the beginnings of the mural so each of the children who are part of our program will be be able to add to it, so it is a living project."

She thinks the children will be so excited when they see the mural.

"It’s a very whimsical, magical mural being created and I think it will spark their imagination and their creativity," Culp said. "Children who are homeless don’t live an easy life and to have a fun, whimsical mural gives them a dream they can be part of."

Paula Clarkson, a volunteer from Nationwide Insurance, said they are painting some lady bugs, a tree, a sculpture and mural. They hung letters, dragonflies and ladybugs all across the yard and down the fence.

A handmade bug which is part of the mural.
Hand-painted lady bugs
More art for the mural.
Doors that are part of the mural are laid out.
The doors are cleaned before becoming part of the mural.
"It’s neat to be able to give back," Clarkson said.

Kari Gonzalez volunteered for the whole day at the Salvation Army’s Transitional Living Center.

When asked why she’s volunteering, she said "I’m really lucky to work for a company that really supports the community so we are really excited to be here."

Her fellow workers are painting, gardening, power washing and a group pulling weeds and working on the playground.

Hauling bags of bark to various areas.
Greg Marston digs area for a border around a flower bed.
Making room for a border.
White paint is applied to the railings.
Greg Marston originally went through the Veteran’s Administration’s drug rehab outpatient program and after that he was referred to the Salvation Army’s Transitional Living program.

"I lived here for about one-year-and -a-half and I did some volunteer work for them," he said. "They hired me on after the volunteer work."

He said sometimes volunteering will get you that job you really need.

"Today is basically spring clean-up, upgrades for the kids and other people who live here, cleaning the building, re-doing the garden," he said. "Giving back is one of the best things."

"I’d like to thank United Way and Nationwide Insurance for coming out here today," Marston said.

Andy Sheehy, Senior Vice President of Resource Development, United Way Capital Region was there and shared they were having a lot of fun.

"This is my dream job. I’m seeing the look on people’s faces, not just the clients, but the faces of the employees at Nationwide – the pride they have in themselves and their company for being such a big investor at a great community event like this," Sheehy said. "It makes me very happy."

"The transitional living facility was developed in 2011 and it is specific to families, families at risk of becoming homeless or homeless." said Ava Simpson, Community Relations and Volunteer Coordinator at the Salvation Army’s facility.  "It keeps the family together. It’s a long term program – from 6 months to two years."

The families do pay rent and they use the time here to take classes, look for work, do work at the facility. They get the chance to make it a better place.

Things were also going on at WEAVE and Make-A-Wish Foundation during the Day of Caring.

Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.

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