MANNA apple harvest a part of Henderson County Day of Caring

Posted 09/19/12

Day of Caring volunteers tackle projects across county
By Emily Weaver

Hendersonville Times-News

Published: Friday, September 14, 2012 at 5:05 p.m.

About 370 volunteers from various organizations and walks of life gathered Friday morning in bright orange tie-dyed shirts, ready for the United Way of Henderson County’s 59th Day of Caring.

Nearly 100 more volunteers than last year, shouting the mantra “We are United!,” scattered to the far corners and inner countryside of Henderson County to tackle 27 service projects.

They constructed ramps to help residents in and out of their homes. They built homes for people who did not have any, and picked apples for the hungry. They tutored the young and spruced up the lawns of local nonprofits.

“Growing up in the mountains, everybody helped everybody. Neighbors pitched in to help neighbors,” said Ernie Wilson, who has been volunteering with Housing Assistance Corporation since 1991. With days like United Way’s Day of Caring, he said, “we’re getting back to how it used to be.”

United Way volunteers, staff and community officials kicked off the 2012 fundraising campaign at 8 a.m. Friday in the Technology Education and Development Center at Blue Ridge Community College. The breakfast event celebrated the 372 volunteers who were scheduled to help all or part of the day with projects. Money raised during the campaign will support United Way’s work to advance education, income and health in the community.

United Way’s 2012 Campaign Chair Greg Burnette, area executive at First Citizens Bank, officially kicked off the campaign by announcing UWHC’s three goals.

“We want to create a community where everyone has access to a first-rate education and children and adults are prepared for success in work and life; where everyone has the opportunities and resources necessary to achieve and maintain economic self-sufficiency; and where wellness is embraced and everyone has access to comprehensive, affordable, high-quality health care,” Burnette said.

He accepted a check for $26,000 from Mike Mayer of Mountain 1st Bank, this year’s campaign Pacesetter. “Mountain 1st has set an example for every company in Henderson County this year,” he said. “Their campaign increased by 60 percent over last year, and 98 percent of their employees chose to invest in Henderson County through United Way. What an amazing accomplishment.”

More than 29 local companies supported the annual Day of Caring by giving their employees time to volunteer.

“We are so thrilled to have such an incredible increase in the number of volunteers serving this year,” said Molly Parkhill, president of Blue Ridge Community College. “People who volunteer know that they are not only improving our community through their service, but often enriching their own lives as well.”

For his service project, Wilson worked side-by-side with other volunteers building a ramp and a back deck for a family on Hoke Road.

I enjoy doing this,” he said. “It’s great that businesses let their people out for a day to help the community.”

Nearly 100 volunteers from several companies and service agencies gathered to pick apples at Alan King’s orchard on Hyder Road Friday morning. The juicy fruit was transferred from limbs to buckets to crates stamped “MANNA Food Bank” for distribution to those facing hunger in Western North Carolina.

“We did this last year and we had a grand time,” said Bridget Barron, nursing director of psychiatric and detox services at Pardee Hospital. She worked with other nursing directors to harvest a tree of its fruit.

“This is our first time picking apples for Manna Food Bank,” said Cindy Owen of PSNC Energy. “We’re all privileged that we have a job so we can go out and help others in the community.”

At Sugarloaf Elementary, Certified Credit and Housing Counselor Linda Youngblood prepared to teach first-graders about money and needs vs. wants with the help of the jolly, green Dime-asaurus. Assisting them were volunteers from Pardee Hospital and the Community Foundation of Henderson County.

On Ida Rogers Road in the Shuey Knolls community of Edneyville, volunteers worked to put the finishing touches on some of the neighborhood’s Habitat for Humanity homes.

“The last house we finish here will be our 150th home. Four houses are under construction now,” said Habitat Director Ron Laughter, who dropped by to thank the volunteers.

Henderson County Engineer Marcus Jones had just finished laying sod with other volunteers, including several from Pardee Hospital. It was a dirty job, but the smiles on their faces hinted they were glad to do it.

Pardee Hospital has been the sole sponsor of the Campaign Kickoff Celebration and Day of Caring for five consecutive years.

“Every year, Pardee Hospital shows us again and again how committed they are to this event and to our community,” said UWHC Executive Director Ruth Birge. “We are proud to partner with this excellent organization, and we know that they share our goal of improving life for everyone in Henderson County.”

The biggest surprise of the day was a 2013 Dodge Dart, which rolled into the Kickoff event to announce an added incentive to donors to the 2012 Campaign. Egolf Motors was set to donate the brand new Dart to one lucky United Way donor who increases their gift by 10% or more; or a new donor who gives at least $100.

Reach Weaver at 828-694-7867 or emily.weaver@blueridgenow.com.

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