United Way Day of Caring set for Friday

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Volunteer Nate Rankin repairs a bicycle for the United Way Day of Caring at the Columbus Bike Co-op in Columbus, Ind., Friday, May 5, 2023.

A total of 365 volunteers will pitch in on 37 different projects with area nonprofits and others Friday for the United Way of Bartholomew County’s annual Day of Caring.

Day of Caring is a full-day volunteer event that connects local businesses and community members with non-profit agencies and organizations to complete needed work. Though some weather forecasts call for a measure of rain, organizers point out that much of the scheduled efforts are set for indoors.

Local nonprofits have regularly mentioned that such days have a huge impact since their budgets are limited for work ranging from landscaping to maintenance. According to 2023 national estimates, one volunteer hour is equal to $33.49 for a nonprofit, a 5.3 percent increase from 2022, according to the Nonprofit Leadership Center.

The number of Day of Caring volunteers last year was higher near the 500-person mark. But Magen Pillar, United Way’s director of communications and marketing, pointed out that volunteer numbers are linked to nonprofits’ needs to be addressed.

And volunteer efforts for area nonprofits extend far beyond Day of Caring to year-round dates. But the single day is one special time to highlight the need and value of such giving, organizers have said through the years.

“The projects are always worthwhile and are truly impactful and helpful to the agencies,” Pillar said. “Volunteers also get to see exactly what each organization does and how they help people.”

Alicia Monroe, Volunteer Action Center director at United Way of Bartholomew County, has called the day “an incredible event.”

United Way of Bartholomew County President Mark Stewart has long said that many residents are far more willing to support area nonprofits financially after seeing agency needs and their work up close as a volunteer on outreaches such as Day of Caring.

Four different groups are coming to help at Columbus Animal Care Services, according to a grateful Nicohl Birdwell Goodin, director.

“It’s huge for us,” she said. “Since we are often busy working with the animals, we often don’t have enough time to weed the garden, or plant grass seed or fix broken dog houses.”

Residents have a strong track record of being generous with their time. For example, in 2015, Day of Caring drew about 1,700 participants from companies throughout Bartholomew County. Volunteers tackled about 30 projects.

Through the years, volunteers have built home ramps for the disabled, tackled painting projects, coordinated landscaping efforts and much more.