By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor

Thousands of people in more than 300 communities across the world will be volunteering through United Way to make their community a better place during “Day of Action” on June 21st.  On this day, individuals, businesses and organizations are invited to address a variety of challenges and LIVE UNITED, coming together to help United Way.

Brad Riffee, Community Impact Director for the United Way of Harrison County, noted that United Way organizations worldwide can choose to tackle whatever projects they choose.  “Here in Harrison County, our local United Way opts to focus on our own member agencies, utilizing this day to take care of things they may not have the staff or the time to address.  Most of our agencies have limited staff and their first priority is to attend to the needs of their clients first, so repairs or beatification projects get postponed unless they are urgent.  Day of Action gives them the help they need.”

Tina Yoke, Executive Director of the United Way of Harrison County, said, “We had 21 of our agencies request volunteer help … and that is nearly all of them!  It may be some painting or just small fix-ups or they may need some organization help.  Volunteers step in on this day and respond to those needs so that our agencies can devote their time to servicing the clients who need them.”

“We will have about 100 volunteers this year, and without them, there would be no ‘Day of Action’!” Riffee stressed. “We can’t thank them enough for stepping in to offer a hand to our member/agencies.”

Riffee started more than a month ago sending out e-mails to Harrison County businesses, seeking interest from those who might be interested in volunteering.  At the same time, United Way agencies were asked to prepare a list of projects they needed taken care of.  Riffee’s task was to match the skills of the volunteers with the needs of the agencies so he could assign site projects.

“Our Day of Action is next Wednesday, June 21st, and it begins with a breakfast at 8 a.m. for our volunteers.  Clarksburg First United Methodist Church allows us to use their space to hold the breakfast, which will be catered by My Mother’s Daughter.  Following the volunteers’ free breakfast, they will go to their assigned sites and assist with needed projects.  Their work is designed to last about four hours,” Riffee added.

Projects may be power-washing a deck area at the Bi-County Nutrition or sorting donations at HOPE’s Domestic Violence Shelter or it may be a landscaping beautification project or installing needed smoke alarms.  Volunteers may be asked to bring their own tools while agencies furnish other supplies necessary.

“Those who volunteer on our ‘Day of Action’ seem to enjoy it and feel it is a good experience,” Riffee continued.  “It gives them an inside peek at what our agencies are doing and some insight into the services they provide. Many of our volunteers come back annually to serve as participants in ‘Day of Action’.”

Volunteers this year represent employees and staff from Dominion, Thrasher Engineering, United Hospital Center, Lockheed Martin, Salem International University, Frontier, Pratt & Whitney, and new volunteers this year from Shentel Sprint.

“We would also like to thank Waste Management; they are this year’s sponsor for the event.  Their donation allows us to give our volunteers this free breakfast to begin their day and also pays for shirts that our volunteers are given.  We are so appreciative of their generous contribution,” Riffee concluded.

The United Way of Harrison County’s next event will be the Live United Regatta, a cardboard boat race that has become a popular activity.  It will be held at Maple Lake in Bridgeport this year on September 10th.  Everyone is invited to participate; begin getting a team together and start designing your cardboard vessel.  Rules and regulations for this event will be posted soon on the United Way’s website at www.unitedwayhcwv.org.