More than 300 volunteers spent Thursday making a difference in their community.
United Way of North Idaho and Mountain West Bank partnered for the 10th annual Day of Caring in North Idaho.
The day began with a morning rally at the fairgrounds, complete with breakfast pitas from Pita Pit and coffee from Calypso’s Coffee and Creamery. One of the first volunteer groups was at Pita Pit at 5 a.m. to roll up more than 300 pitas for the breakfast.
Teams from more than 20 corporate and civic groups were then sent off to roll up their sleeves and get to work. They painted. They cleaned. They sorted. They landscaped. They packaged. They constructed. They did whatever was needed, and while they were helping, they were learning.
Keri Stark, United Way of North Idaho’s Director of Community Impact, explained the impact within the community that Day of Caring creates.
“I just can’t overstate this enough: It’s such a great way for people to see what the work [of the nonprofits] is like and what’s needed, and really get a sense of the inner working of an organization’s mission,” she said. “It’s a really great on-the-ground experience.”
She described how volunteers often end up connecting and networking with charities that they get to experience, perhaps going on to become a board member or regular volunteer. That’s the goal of Day of Caring, to create relationships between nonprofits and the business community.
NIC Workforce Training volunteered to help out their neighbors, Newby-ginnings. Newby-ginnings provides support and resources for veterans and their families, and their facility in Post Falls is filled with donated items — everything from clothing for the entire family to medical supplies to food items to furniture. They’re items needed to fill a new home or apartment after service or homelessness has ended.
The team worked alongside a few of Newby-ginnings’ regular volunteers to make the place spick-and-span in preparation for their parking lot party.
“The timing was perfect because we have our big event on Saturday, so this was a chance for us to come in and get everything shiny and ready,” said founder Theresa Hart.
The sentiment of networking and finding common ground with different nonprofits was shared by Michelle Garrett, NIC Workforce’s Employment and Training Services Program Specialist. She misses her brother, who is somewhere in the world right now serving a deployment.
“It makes me feel good to do something here and to know that this is an option when he comes home,” she said. “Even though he is not here in our community, but wherever he goes next, he could have support like this.”
She looks forward to seeing how NIC’s Veterans Services can partner and continue to grow with Newby-ginnings.
Her teammate, Christine Sessions, also connected with Newby-ginnings on a more personal level. She wished that something like it had been around when her husband retired from his military service.
“We could have really used a service like this,” Sessions said.
Four ladies who work at Knudtsen Chevrolet were at the Post Falls Senior Center in the afternoon to lend a hand. They were asked to pull weeds on the property and wash some windows. Krystal Kcrma was the team’s project coordinator. This was the first year Knudtsen Chevrolet has participated.
“The fact that the owner was so supportive of letting us come out to volunteer and not work for a few hours is great,” she said.
Receptionist Courtney Kintner described what her service work at the Senior Center meant to her: “Volunteering is important because we all hit rough moments in our life, and we are all going to be seniors someday, but if we want someone to take care of us then we have to do it first.”
Other volunteers around town worked on projects great and small.
About 150 from Mountain West Bank were on hand at Tesh, working on a construction project.
Elderhelp was the location of a lot of wood chopping and loading.
Volunteers in Bonner County helped at places like Mountain States Head Start, the library and the Sandpoint Teen Center.
Regardless of the task at hand, people were helping and being helped all at the same time. Perhaps they experienced something called “Volunesia.” As explained by Newby-ginnings Volunteer Coordinator, Brandi Stordahl, it’s “the moment you forget that you’re volunteering to change lives, because it’s changing yours.”