Volunteers show they care across region

By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

The United Way of West Central Connecticut hosted its 27th Annual Day of Caring on Friday, May 18, throughout Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, and Plymouth.

Day of Caring is an “annual United Way sponsored event offering hundreds of people the opportunity to volunteer at non-profit agencies in our community. Day of Caring began in 1992 as a way to help employees of local corporations interact with human services agencies” explains the website, www.uwwestcentralct.org.

Twenty-one Bristol agencies participated, including the Imagine Nation A Museum Early Learning Center, the New England Carousel Museum, and Meals for Neighbors at Zion Lutheran Church.

Coral Richardson, director at Imagine Nation, 1 Pleasant St., said there was a full list of duties that included cleaning up the playground, cleaning and organizing the facility, and helping with the children.

Volunteers from Jensen Communities, Thomaston Savings Bank, high schools from the various communities, and members of the United Way Youth Board attended Imagine Nation.

Mitchel Kvedar, a senior at Lewis S. Mills High School, and Morgan Crumrine, a senior at Bristol Central High School were both able to participate through their schools.

“I didn’t know where I’d be volunteering but I’m glad I’m here today at the Imagine Nation Museum, I came here a lot as a kid,” said Kvedar. “I think [Day of Caring] is an opportunity to show that you care, just in general. I know it’s called “Day of Caring” and that’s kind of redundant, but definitely showing you are caring for the community in some aspect. I mean, people are out helping Girl Scouts, people are right here at the Imagine Nation Museum helping kids, people are cleaning up the woods, people are all over the place. People are doing lots of things just showing up to help the community in some aspect.”

“I found it cool because I love helping out with the community, and I didn’t realize I would end up here, but I love helping out with kids,” said Crumrine.

At Zion Lutheran Church, 27 Judd St., Cheryl Yetke, director of Meals for Neighbors worked with volunteers from Bristol Hospital and Webster Bank to organize the food donations from a fundraiser to support the Meals for Neighbors pantry.

“When the Postal Food Drive was, last Saturday, we received almost 1,400 to 1,500 pounds of food in boxes,” said Yetke. “So, what happens is, down in the green room, volunteers go through and make sure all of the dates are good, and that the food is good, and we repackage it. And the green room is where people bring food, and then we trickle it down to the pantry.”

“We have been coming to Zion Lutheran food pantry and kitchen for many years,”said Andrea Adams, volunteering through Bristol Hospital.

Adams said in that time, Bristol Hospital volunteers help to sort, relabel, and organize donations from the Postal Food Drive.

Jen McCubrey, with Webster Bank, said Webster is very involved with the United Way.

“It’s a chance to reach out and help others to help the community,” said McCubrey.

Elaine Lipton, a visitors services coordinator at the New England Carousel Museum oversaw the 27 volunteers from Signa as they worked on the landscaping, helping to ready the property for spring and summer.

Jena Doolittle, Tammie LaFrance, and Diane Supranovich all said the Day of Caring is like a Cigna reunion, in which they can spend time together as they give back to the community.

“We’ve been doing this since the Day of Caring started,” said Doolittle. “Eventually I took over being the team captain for Cigna, and when our building closed in Bristol, kept it together with a more skeleton group, but still getting thirty to thirty-five people every year when we don’t even have a local presence is – we’re happy with it.”