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June 22, 2013

REAL-LIFE ACTION FIGURES: United Way volunteers help spruce up area nonprofits

JEFFERSONVILLE — United Way volunteer Michael Stewart knows times tight for many Southern Indiana residents.

That’s one of the reasons he was excited to see so many helping hands out in the community Friday for United Way’s Day of Action. Stewart said this day not only helps the community, but it offers a new way to give back.

“The thought from United Way is that there are other ways to give back besides giving your dollar,” Stewart said. “If you can’t afford the dollar, then can you give us your time?”

On June 21 of each year, United Way holds its Day of Action, when communities gather and volunteer to help better their environments. The program is now in its sixth year as a whole, but Southern Indiana hosted its inaugural Day of Action on Friday.

“It’s starting out, we’re hoping that it will grow from here and it will be an annual thing,” said Stewart, last year’s regional United Way chair and Voluforms’ president. “We hope that we get the thousands of people that Louisville gets and we can spread out across the community.”

During this day, volunteers are sent to different areas to work on a variety of projects. Some of this year’s projects included Rauch’s 60th Birthday Celebration, clean up at Our Place, resident recovery from March 2, 2012, tornadoes, American Red Cross office organization and Center for Lay Ministries/Bliss House spring cleanup.

“The Bliss House is a women’s residential recovery facility that provides services for women who are suffering from substance abuse,” program director Julie Schwerer said.

The house was established in 2001, with a second house added in 2006. The second home is a transitional home with apartment style housing. Volunteers at the Bliss House helped with landscaping and painting.

“United Way contacted us about the Day of Action, I like to say they reached in,” Schwerer said. “The event is incredibly helpful-it will help us so we can better serve our community and provide a clean and safe environment for our women.”

Schwerer said she hopes volunteers feel good about what they are doing to help the area they live in.

Stewart said many businesses have donated to the cause, not only their time, but needed items such as mulch.

“It’s not easy for everyone to donate, but you can still do something for your community and for people that need it,” he said.

Stewart said another benefit of this event is the opportunity for volunteers to witness those people who have given their lives to giving back.

“It’s a way to show appreciation to the people who do this on a daily basis, that have donated their lives to making other people’s lives better, like the Bliss House,” he said.

Tim Lawson, public relations representative on behalf of Metro United Way, said nonprofit organizations as well as schools are invited to identify and share volunteer projects for this year’s Day of Action.

“Metro United Way recruits the people and organizations from all across the community who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done,” Lawson said. “Lending your time and talent by volunteering is a way you can help.”

ON THE WEB

• For more information about United Way’s Day of Action, visit unitedway.org

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5-year-old Nicholas Garrison is handed a lemon drop, while 6-year-old Thomas and 4-year-old Walker Sturgeon, try theirs at Schimpff's Confectionery Friday afternoon in Jeffersonville.

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