Pride and community are at the heart of the Day of Caring and Wenonah Park Cleanup

With another month before the annual Day of Caring, the United Way of Bay County is nearing the limit of volunteers it can put to work. The Day of Caring and Wenonah Park Cleanup Day are set for Fri., April 26.

Nicole Luczak, CEO of the United Way, says she loves seeing the entire community come together to help one another during the two events.

 “It’s a day that reminds you of all the good that is still in the world because people show up and they are ready to work,” Luczak says.

She says the positivity is an exciting counterbalance to the negativity in the world.

“Seeing hundreds of people pile in, even in the rain, even if the weather is crappy, they pile in, carrying their work gloves and their own rakes, and just smiling and everybody is just happy to be helping.”

Day of Caring projects are scattered throughout the county, and include everything from painting, yard cleanups, picking up trash, and spreading mulching in parks and playgrounds to helping sort and fold clothes for the Foster Family Navigation and Resource Center.

“We’re actually painting the front of the police station building in Pinconning this year,” she says.

Day of Caring, a national event, and Wenonah Park Cleanup, a local event, weren’t always on the same day – Earth Day. But the two events are natural partners.

Wenonah Park Cleanup Day came about when Rob Clark, now Communications Director for Michigan Sugar, was Editor of The Bay City Times.

“I’ve always loved Wenonah Park. I think it’s an incredible space,” he says, but back in 2014 when his office was in the Mill End Building,“I was sitting in the office one day and looking out of the window at Wenonah Park and I noticed that the Ring of Friendship was looking a little dingy. I mean frankly, it just looked dirty.”

He wrote a column in The Bay City Times asking for people to get together and clean it up. Within a short time, 40 people stepped up to help.

“At that point, you know it occurred to me that, well, we’ve got 40 people, we could do more than just clean the Ring of Friendship.”

That launched into the first Wenonah Park Cleanup Day.

This year, as many as 600 volunteers will chip in on the Day of Caring. Luczak says there are already over 530 signed up to volunteer. The day begins at 8 a.m. in Wenonah Park.  Within four hours, most of the volunteers will have completed their work. Volunteers can sign up on the website for a specific project.

There are also a lot of businesses and nonprofits that step up to make sure the day is a success.

Luczak and Clark each say the partnerships in the community make the effort seamless. Rosie’s Pies and Bakery, Michigan Sugar, Bay Metro, The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 103, Meijer, and Fabiano Brothers each contribute to the event.

“You know, we could do a lot of complaining about what our community looks like, but when people step up, I mean, it's a lot of taking pride in your community. So if you want it to look nice and be this wonderful place and this is where people step up and do that and help,” says Luczak.

There is still room for Day of Caring volunteers. To sign up, visit the United Way of Bay County website.

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Read more articles by Denyse Shannon.

As a feature writer and freelance journalist, Denyse Shannon has written professionally for over two and a half decades. She has worked as a contractor for daily and weekly newspapers, national and local magazines, and taught introductory media writing at her alma mater – Central Michigan University. She also holds a Master of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University. She and her husband live in Bangor Township and enjoy sailing on the Bay, and are avid cyclists.