Jackson County’s largest one-day gathering of volunteers to do community improvement projects has been postponed.
On Monday afternoon, Jackson County United Way announced the 24th annual Day of Caring will now be Sept. 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It originally was scheduled for May 12.
Executive Director Tonja Couch said it’s in the best interest of the community to postpone the event to a time when they can mobilize more volunteers and ensure plenty of meaningful project sites.
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“This annual event is just what our community will need when it is safe to serve one another once the social distancing restrictions are lifted,” she said. “We anticipate that the day will look and feel different with a focus on the National Day of Service and on smaller projects.”
This year’s co-chairs, Karen Brooks and Ron Duncan, recently met virtually with the planning committee. They all agreed to postpone the event.
Brooks said it will still be a great event for the whole county.
“The event is about dedicated volunteers coming together to work to make wonderful things happen across the county,” she said. “Whether we are helping a senior citizen by planting fall flowers or cleaning up a community park, these volunteers are making life better for all of Jackson County. It’s amazing what a few volunteers can do.”
She encourages more volunteers to sign up now to serve and make an impact.
“I am proud to once again be a part of this event as we work together to make Jackson County even better than it was before,” she said.
“In offering help to those who need it, we create the opportunity to pay it forward, making Jackson County a better place to live and raise our families, to be proud of where we live by the direct impact we can make,” she said. “We don’t just change the way things look. We change the way we look at things.”
In 2019, a record was set with 1,621 volunteers (284 youth and 1,337 adults) completing 173 projects throughout Jackson County. The projects were in Brownstown, Crothersville, Freetown, Medora, Norman and Seymour.
While disruptions are anticipated this year based on the number of volunteers available, United Way is seeking projects in all of Jackson County.
“Specifically this year, we are looking for projects in Brownstown, Crothersville, Freetown, Seymour or Medora,” said Bonita Dobbs, program manager for Jackson County United Way. “A wide variety of projects are needed to fit the wide variety of skills our volunteers bring to this annual event.”
Volunteers can do outdoor projects, including light landscaping, painting, power washing, washing outside windows and organizing a shed.
While most projects are accepted, volunteers cannot do any roofing projects, ramp builds or enter homes. Projects must be able to be completed between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., and a certificate of insurance and liability release must be provided.
Project sites are asked to provide materials, while volunteer groups may be asked to bring their tools from home to assist with completion of some projects.
One new strategy United Way plans to implement into Day of Caring is expanding the outreach and support of ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed) households in Jackson County.
Statistics show 42% of Jackson County homes are ALICE, or those who are working hard and struggle to make ends meet. ALICE households earn income that is just above the threshold to receive public assistance while they struggle to meet basic needs.
“If we want to be known as a place where we work together for solutions to take care of neighbors and generations, calling your neighbor to see if they’d like help from the Day of Caring is the first step,” Dobbs said.
This year, United Way also is partnering with Seymour and Medora to focus on neighborhood cleanup. United Way has asked city and town officials to assist in identifying neighborhoods and seniors who would benefit from this type of support.
Letters will be co-written by officials and delivered to those individuals. In the event they chose to participate, the homeowner will need to provide proof of insurance and sign a waiver.
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The 24th annual Jackson County United Way Day of Caring has been postponed until Sept. 11.
To register a project or volunteer, visit jacsy.org/dayofcaring.
If you know a neighbor who could benefit from Day of Caring, register them online or request a paper copy by emailing [email protected] or calling 812-522-5450, ext. 4.