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Impact of volunteers invaluable
Nonprofits grateful for Day of Caring
Caring WEB 1
Holly Zinck, a volunteer from AT&T, paints a wall at The Place of Forsyth County on Friday during the United Way’s Day of Caring. - photo by Crystal Ledford

Holly Zinck typically spends her mornings at a desk.

But Friday, the AT&T employee was painting a wall at The Place of Forsyth County.

She was one of more than 450 volunteers who gave several hours to various nonprofit organizations around the county as part of United Way’s annual Day of Caring.

Zinck, who has participated in the day for the past four years, called it a “no-brainer.”

“We can give our time and it’s kind of nice to get away from the office, too,” she said. “It seems like this is a kind of fun day to do stuff like paint or mow the grass.

“I do look forward to it because it’s also a good team-building experience since you work with your co-workers every day in an office. But this is a way to kind of work with them in an environment of doing something physical and you can really enjoy the teamwork.”

A team of 48 of her co-workers joined forces with 48 Publix employees to help The Place with painting, landscaping and sorting food and clothes at the facility’s thrift store.

Sandy Beaver, director of The Place, which provides emergency food, clothing and other assistance to those in need, said she looks forward to the Day of Caring every year.

“It’s the day where I get my wish list of things accomplished,” she said. “The volunteers come and they help us do the things that we can’t afford to pay somebody to do and that we don’t have the manpower to do.

“They help keep things going. It’s critical.”

Kerry Rosewall at the Forsyth County Center at Charles Place, which provides seniors with meals and activities, agreed the day is important.

“It’s great for us because these are things we need to get done, but we don’t have the time in our regular schedule to do them,” she said. “And this many people can do in the couple of hours they’re here what it would take us all day to do.”

Several volunteers from UPS spent the morning at the center weeding, cleaning and sorting shortage areas.

April McClanahan took time out to deep clean some tables and chairs in the center’s library area. Volunteering, she said, is just a “part of her nature.”

“If you come from a big family, you’re used to helping, you’re used to supporting,” she said. “You’re used to doing those things. So getting out to help, it just makes you feel good because you’re helping someone who needs the help, you’re helping organizations that are trying to do something for people who are looking for help.”

Before heading to their respective project sites, volunteers began the day with a breakfast at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.

Gerry Brown, a Forsyth resident and 2012 Olympic torch bearer, addressed the group. He compared his time carrying the Olympic flame to the volunteers’ dedication to their community.

“I got to carry a flame and I got to carry a torch, but I’m also a torch,” he said. “I carry a heart that beats for a community and I carry a heart that has a flame that I want to go out and serve people.

“I challenge you to keep carrying your torch. Your torch lights the torches of other folks who aren’t serving yet.”

The event also served as the kickoff for the United Way annual campaign, which raises money during the fall for distribution to its partner agencies throughout the following year.

While a specific goal for the 2013 campaign wasn’t given, executive director Ruth Goode said she was happy to begin a new fundraising season.

“It’s like our springtime here in the fall,” she said. “It’s a new beginning … it symbolizes a sense of hope for our neighbors and the celebration of our generous spirit in all of you, the citizens of Forsyth County who support us.

“It’s just a wonderful day for our community to come together.”

Back at The Place, Beaver said the day’s value is immeasurable for her and other nonprofit leaders.

“The volunteers are willing to come out, participate and give 100 percent,” she said. “And that’s priceless.”