GREENCASTLE -- This coming Friday will find volunteers from all over Putnam County working to help build a better community during the United Way of Putnam County's Day of Caring.
The annual event follows the agency's kick-off breakfast at 8 a.m. on Aug. 28 at the Walden Inn Conference Center.
"It takes everyone in the community working together to create a brighter future. So we bring together people from all across the community -- government, business, faith groups, nonprofits, the labor movement, ordinary citizens -- to tackle the issues. Because we all win when a child succeeds in school, when a family becomes financially stable and when people have good health," explained David English, executive director of the county's United Way.
This year, workers will be found helping at Opportunity Housing, Johnson Nichols Health Clinic, Red Cross, Family Youth Development and the Parks Department.
Cari Cox with Putnam County Family Services was delighted to have help last year with her Step Bag program.
"The people who helped here completed a project in a morning that would have taken one of our staff members a full week to do," said Cox. "The volunteers had a lot of fun doing it and gave our program a great boost."
Cox is very pleased with having members of the community step up through the United Way program.
"It's so important to have the day of caring with United Way enlisting community members to help organizations like ours," added Cox. "And it's beneficial to those who volunteer as well."
With Putnam County invested heavily in the automobile industry, needs are growing greater in the community. Families from all around need help.
As the economy worsens and people tighten their belts, the demand for Putnam County United Way Agency services continues to rise.
These same agencies are facing cuts from federal and state funding programs and are relying on the generosity of the community in which they operate.
"From our standpoint, we would be seriously deficit if it weren't for the United Way," said Youth Development Services Executive Director Linda Merkel about last year's campiagn. "We would see a significant decrease in the number of programs we are able to provide. For example, our Coats for Kids program in Putnam County gave out almost 700 coats. That program alone shows the impact on the numbers of children who received coats, hats and mittens."
For Kristi Menke at Hope Haven Horse Farm in Coatesville, having United Way funds enables her organization to help special needs, at-risk low-income children. Her program helps kids both mentally and physically. Thanks to funding provided by United Way Menke is able to show the effectiveness of the program she operates.
"The Putnam County United Way is only as strong as the community makes it," said English. "No matter what your interest or skills, there is an opportunity for you to get involved."
Anyone can participate as a volunteer. Businesses, employee groups from local corporations, church and youth groups, as well as civic and philanthropic groups are welcome to join the event.
Projects may include painting a room, cleaning out a flowerbed, sorting canned food or any number of other things.
The day begins with volunteers gathering at the Walden Inn and Conference Center at 8 a.m. for the Annual United Way of Putnam County Kick-Off Breakfast. This year's featured speaker is State Representative Nancy Michael, who will talk about being a community leader and the needs of the Putnam County community.
"Day of Caring gives volunteers a firsthand look at services provided by local organizations and how they impact people's lives. It also showcases the communities volunteer efforts and promotes the spirit of caring," said English.
By 9 a.m. volunteers will be ready to report to their work groups.
"This is an opportunity for many local organizations to get help with much needed volunteer assistance," said English.
The United Way is looking to increase their goal this year. Three pacesetters have already started early campaigns at their businesses. Old National Bank, National City Bank and Wal-Mart have all run early campaigns and have increased pledges.
The United Way of Putnam County's goal is to raise $175,000 in the coming year.
"We're bringing back the thermometer so the whole community can drive by our office and see how much they have given to their neighbors," said English. "The important thing to remember is that more than 97 percent of monies raised go right back into this community."
The United Way in Putnam County serves 15 local agencies. They include the Putnam County Red Cross, Area 7 Agency on Aging, A-way Home Shelter, Hope Haven Horse Farm, Johnson Nichols Health Clinic, Mental Health America in Putnam County, Opportunity Housing Inc. of Putnam County, Putnam County Chaplaincy Association, Putnam County Comprehensive Services, Putnam County council on Aging and Aged, Putnam County Family Support Services, Inc., Putnam County Youth Development Commission, Reading Improvement Center, Summer Enrichment Program and the YMCA of Clay County.
"I was humbled by the community support last year, at the breakfast as well as during the campaign. Let us together build on that support, partnership and momentum to further enhance and enrich our community. This is and always will be the United Way of Putnam County, which is your United Way. I hope we can all strive to live united," said English.
Cost for the breakfast is $18 per person or $120 per table. Registration is from 7:30-8 a.m. Speaker Nancy Michael will take the podium at 8:25 a.m. and the Day of Caring will kick off at 9 a.m.
For information, to ask for help with a project, to volunteer or RSVP to the breakfast, call the United Way at 653-5638 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org