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.
At the Children's Village of Sonoma County, a multigenerational home for foster children, a group of Target employees on their own time joined several other volunteers to clean up the garden, build a path and wash screens, windows and rooftop solar panels.
Several said the facility's mission of creating stable homes for its clients and, where possible, allowing siblings to live together, made the work especially gratifying.
"I just think this is a good cause, keeping siblings together," said Tina Burgi, who works the Target sales floor. "Once I found out about that, it just makes it better."
Day of Caring "is a way for people who don't work on the front lines to connect with the community," said John Haig, redevelopment manager for Sonoma County and co-chairman of the county's Day of Caring participation.
"We're all so busy driving around and doing things, we all kind of forget about what we need to do as people for our community," said Deborah Deeds, a first-year volunteer assigned to Taylor Mountain School. "It's hard to donate money these days, so you can do this instead: donate your time, and your energy."
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