By KAITLYN NAPLES
While passing through the city and surrounding towns last Friday, you may have noticed people scattered about in green shirts picking up trash, pruning bushes, painting, and more at various locations.
Those people were participating in the 22nd annual United Way of West Central Connecticut’s Day of Caring. Each year, the United Way gathers up a group of volunteers for one day. Then these volunteers are dispersed to various organizations in the towns in the agency’s regions, such as Bristol, Plainville, Burlington, and Plymouth. Once there, these bands of volunteers take on a variety of community service projects. Projects in the past have included painting, cleaning, gardening, and other maintenance tasks, or projects such as working with the homeless, elderly, or children.
Over at the Bristol Adult Resource Center, employees from General Electric Industrial Solutions in Plainville joined students from the area high schools to help with landscaping, painting and other tasks that BARC staff may not be able to get to due to lack of time and resources.
Joe Henry, who was leading the team at BARC last Friday, has been participating in the Day of Caring with GE for the last five years.
“GE has about 150 volunteers participate every year, and it’s our way of giving back to our local community,” Henry said, adding that during his first year of the Day of Caring he was an intern at General Electric.
Ken Oberhausen has been participating in the annual Day of Caring for over 20 years, and said he always looks forward to giving back to the community as well, and bonding throughout the day with fellow employees he may not usually see at the workplace.
“Giving back is something GE does all across the board,” Oberhausen said, adding that he enjoys seeing “the different talents people bring throughout the day” at different projects.
Nick Goodine, also a GE employee, agreed and said he is from Bristol and when he was driving to the work site that morning he noticed all of the people working throughout his community.
“It was cool to see everyone helping out with something bigger in the community,” Goodine added.
Local high school students also participated throughout the day, such as Rachel Jurzyk, 17, who has participated for the last three years.
“It makes me happy to be able to give back,” Jurzyk said.
Sarah Bowes, 15, was participating in her first Day of Caring and said she thought it would “be a great way to just give back to the community and have fun.” Bowes said she plans to participate in future years.
Executive Director Judy Gebben of the Bristol Adult Resource Center said this was her first Day of Caring as director at BARC, and she said she was so grateful for the volunteers who tackled jobs that may have not been completed otherwise.
“It is so great to have the community participate and have people interested enough to help out,” Gebben said, adding that she was looking forward to the day progressing.
In the past, about 700 volunteers have participated in the annual Day of Caring, which all started in September of 1992, when 100 volunteers participated to complete 45 projects. On Sept. 11, 2001, after hearing of the attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York City, about 300 volunteers still devoted their day to helping the communities. In 2006, the Day of Caring was moved to the spring, instead of the fall, to accommodate youth volunteers.
Participants in this year’s Day of Caring:
General Electric Industrial Solutions
Kelly and Lori LaFrance
Associated Spring/ Barnes Group
First Bristol Federal Credit Union
Thomaston Savings Bank
Pines at Bristol
Sports Hall of Fame
Stop and Shop