Cummins employees volunteer for annual work day


Employees with one of the county’s largest industries spent Friday repaying the community by completing a series of projects.

“It’s a way for us to show we care for the community,” said Venkat Ramin with Cummins Inc.

Ramin was one of the team’s leaders for the diesel engine maker’s sixth annual Seymour Community Work Day. Jackson County United Way also supports the project.

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His team worked in a shelter house at Shields Park on the north side of Seymour stripping paint from picnic tables and then repainting them with some help from employees with the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department.

Other Cummins employees spread out in teams across Jackson County and surrounding areas from Austin to Columbus working on various service projects for local governmental agencies, organizations and individuals.

“Cummins encourages us to give us at least eight hours, but we generally try to do all we can,” Raman said of community service. “If you include the Day of Caring in the spring, (this team) has put in 16 hours.”

Other Cummins volunteers spent their time in some of the play areas at Gaiser Park on Seymour’s south side.

“We’re spreading new mulch because of the water soaking down the (old) stuff here,” Amarnath Nelli said.

Together, 21 teams consisting of more than 140 volunteers from Cummins worked at 32 sites making improvements.

“We are blessed with the partnership of Cummins,” said Tonja Couch, executive director of Jackson County United Way. “They’ve been an important partner in the opportunity to grow our volunteerism so rapidly.”

The organization offers many volunteer opportunities throughout the year, including Day of Caring in the spring of each year.

In 2012, the United Way had 558 volunteers. That number rose to 3,262 in 2017, a growth of 485 percent.

“Not only do we have more volunteers serving in the community, they are serving more hours,” said Bonita Dobbs, the United Way’s program manager.

Dobbs said the number of donated work hours in the Community Work Day and other events during the year has reached 33,821 hours.

Dobbs said the volunteers worked an estimated $24.14 per hour, meaning volunteers have given $816,400 worth of work.

This year was the fifth year that David Gonzalez worked with a group on the Community Work Day.

“I think this year, we got an easier project than previous years,” said Gonzalez, who helped spread mulch at Gaiser.

In previous years, Gonzalez said he has removed posts, worked on building border boxes around playgrounds and painting.

“It’s nice to see people I might not normally get to work with both in the company and community,” he said. “When we get a lot of workers togetherm we (really) help the community.”

This year’s Cummins work day had a more direct focus of helping senior citizens who have needs they can’t accomplish by themselves, especially projects involving landscaping, Dobbs said.

She said that focus directly ties to the community’s hope of being a community that works together for solutions to neighbors and generations.

Couch said despite the growth in volunteers completing community service projects each year, there’s always the need for more help.

“With less than 8 percent of our community engaged in making Jackson County the place we want it to be, we need more help,” Couch said.

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Jackson County United Way may contact Kimberly Buck at 812-522-5450 or [email protected]. Buck is Jackson County United Way AmeriCorps member.

The next specific opportunity to volunteer will be Red Ribbon Week, which is Oct. 23-31.

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