By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The United Way of Hill County is seeking volunteers to help needy elderly people during its annual Day of Caring.
Scheduled for Aug. 23, the Day of Caring is an opportunity for people to give back to their community by helping clean and repair homes belonging to older residents, United Way of Hill County president Lori Henderson said.
"We really need people to paint, do yardwork, basically anything to help other people," she said.
"What we're doing is we're going to spend a day helping these elderly people in their home," she said. "These are people who have given their lives to their community, and we wanted to give some of that back."
The United Way sought applications for potential projects earlier this summer, Henderson said, and received only a few responses.
"I know there's a need out there, but sometimes people are reluctant to say, 'Gee, I need help,'" she said.
The requests that were received were from people with genuine needs, she added.
"A couple of the projects are pretty big," she said, "putting in windows, installing a hot water heater. Some of the projects are smaller, like painting, cleaning, and yardwork."
Another request asked for a tree to be removed, and cracks in a sidewalk be filled, Henderson said.
The scope of this year's projects have taken a different direction than tasks performed in previous years, she said. In the five-year history of the Day of Caring, most of the projects have been directed toward organizations rather than individuals, she added.
Last year, community volunteers scraped and painted the Girl Scout house in Havre. In 2001, they stripped and painted the North Havre Community Services Food Bank, and also carried out repairs and landscaping. Prior to that, the United Way sponsored efforts to paint the Haven abuse shelter, build shelves at the Salvation Army, and rewire the Feed My Sheep soup kitchen, Henderson said.
This spring, when the group was discussing which project to sponsor this year, United Way executive director Bob Rice suggested that the organization make an effort to reach out to the area's needy elderly. The United Way of Hill County board of directors approved the idea, and soon planners were accepting requests from elderly citizens, Henderson said.
Dottie Rice, assistant United Way director, said today that other United Way chapters have done similar projects in other communities. The idea is to assist people who often are unable to do the work themselves, she said.
"There's a lot of elderly people in town," she said. "I wish we could help them all."
The United Way is hoping to recruit between 20 and 30 volunteers for the event, Henderson said.
Anyone who wishes to participate should call the United Way at 265-6561, or show up at City Hall at 8 a.m. on Aug. 23. Lunch will be provided.
Those volunteering should be prepared to work hard, Dottie Rice said.
"It's going to be full day's work."