On September 24th, The United Way of Rockland County is sponsoring their 17th annual Day of Caring in which Rockland County gets the chance to impact its community with a very human touch rather than the silent hand of a donated check.
"It's a day of beautification," says Trish Austin, Director of Community Impact for Rockland County United Way. One in which local companies take part in activities that range from taking kids apple picking, cleaning up on the shores of the Hudson or readying the Girl Scout camp for the close of summer.
At the same time, shutting (or slowing down)a day of business is no small measure for the companies who care enough to make a difference. "That's pretty significant," she says, "and speaks to what this community is all about."
Employees at Pfizer have definitely been onboard over the years and take the day's pay at a price that cannot be measure in dollars and cents, according to Maureen Kloek of the Pearl River pharmaceutical. They absolutely love giving back to the community and look forward every year to the Day of Caring, says Pfizer’s Chairperson of Community Outreach.
Usually putting between 60 and 80 feet on the ground at the Vision Camp for the Blind, employees gladly trade in their white collars and cubicles for an afternoon of handy work. They really like to get out there and do the work, she says.
Last year, faulty stairs were reinforced from below, aging doors were replaced and several handrails got a sturdy makeover. Of course, lacking in the basics of hammering and hack-sawing doesn't take precedence over caring to make a difference, as some people just go up, paint, rake and get the cabins cleaned up, she says.
It's all a help that does not go unnoticed - especially for the two caretakers who have no way to get to everything throughout the year. "Knowing that they have skilled workers to come up and get all these things done for them is just a Godsend," she says.
On a smaller scale, The Garnerville Art and Industrial Center takes a day off from its mission of providing rented studiospace to artists, artisans and light industry professionals. But Rockland's creative class probably can spare the modest three or four Garnerville employees who take just as much pride in this as their caring friends at Pfizer. "They've done painting, they've done landscaping - whatever needs to be done, they are ready to do," says the center’s president Robin Rosenberg.
Interestingly, the center is in the unique position of truly understanding how the "day" impacts those who receive assistance. The Garnerville Gallery (GAGA) operates the galleries within the complex and they run all the events, says Ms. Rosenberg, who is also the president of the onsite non-profit.
So for the first time, United Way sent volunteers and helped GAGA spruce up their nature walk and sculpture trail. And again, the effort put in by just a few, adds up to a lot. “It’s a boon,” she says, because we have an extremely nominal budget, which needs to be used to sponsor the exhibits.
Other non-profits around the area know the feeling, and when volunteers take part, it’s really an investment made in both themselves and their community. “Our non-profits provide so many vital services to the needy people in our community, and to take a day of your time and try to do something that’s giving back, it’s not only something that makes us feel good intrinsically, but it has an actual real world tangible benefit,” says Ms. Rosenberg.
Ms. Kloek at Pfizer can second the sentiment from the feedback that comes back to her every September. It’s a relationship that we have with people that is more rewarding than just giving five dollars to a charity, she concludes.
For more info www.uwrc.org/events/