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1,000 volunteers pitch in for Day of Caring

  • Jerad Harrison, an employee at Target in Santa Rosa, volunteered to wash windows Wednesday at The Children's Village in Santa Rusa during the 22nd Annual United Way Day of Caring in Sonoma County. (JOHNBURGESS / The Press Democrat)

It was a daunting list of chores that confronted volunteers Wednesday at the Catholic Charities Family Support Center in Santa Rosa: painting, landscaping, office filing, restriping the parking lot, cleaning out a huge corrugated shed and doing electrical wiring.

Yet there appeared to be no shortage of enthusiasm despite the ambitious to-do list, and the crowd of about 50 workers, mostly from Exchange Bank, pitched in with gusto.

“They brought their own pressure washer!” said Jennielynn Holmes, Catholic Charities' shelter and housing manager. “The whole staff looks forward to this, gearing up for the day.”

Volunteers who rolled up their sleeves for Catholic Charities' projects at the Family Support Center, the Sam Jones adult shelter west of town, and the Morgan Street Homeless Services Center were part of an army of 1,000 volunteer laborers that spread out around Sonoma County for the United Way's annual Day of Caring.

Workers tackled more than 40 projects for more than 25 nonprofit organizations with budgets that don't cover the kinds of upgrades, general maintenance and major projects tackled each year by those who volunteer, spokesman Stacy Ruppert said.

Holmes said residents of the family shelter clapped and cheered when they heard plans for the B Street building they call home.

At the Bellevue school district's Taylor Mountain Elementary School in south Santa Rosa, where about 20 volunteers trimmed, culled and mulched pyracantha that was threatening to take over the sidewalks, Principal Elizabeth Sesma-Olinyk beamed at the progress made before lunch.

“It's fabulous,” she said, noting the district has just one maintenance person for four campuses. “Already there's an extreme change in the campus.”

Volunteers said the annual day of service rewards them in a variety of ways, as well, including just getting outside or out of the daily routine for a day.

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