Susan Smith says it's "not an accident" that United Way of Washtenaw County’s National Day of Action coincides with the first day of summer on June 21.
"After all, is there any better way to celebrate the start of the summer season other than volunteering to help others in the community?" says Smith, the organization’s director of development.
The National Day of Action offers 10 different volunteer opportunities scattered across the county. At press time, over 65 volunteers were still needed to participate in this year's projects.
The event is aimed both at individuals and families who want to make a difference, as well as businesses who are interested in team-building.
“Helping others helps a team grow closer," says Smith. "We’ve had groups of 30 employees from a single company sign up to help and they’ve always had a great time getting out of the office and doing something different together."
There are a variety of projects to enlist in, most of them involving working outdoors. Opportunities range from working on grounds repairs and other improvements for various local nonprofits to helping seniors with their yard work.
Regardless of how volunteers choose to allot their time during the National Day of Action, Smith says they'll have fun while making an impact in the community.
As an example of the latter, she recalls the gratitude of a senior who got help with her yard at last year’s event. She was so happy that she insisted on showing her appreciation by hugging each volunteer.
"It turned out that her husband had died and he was the one who had always taken care of the yard," Smith says. "When he passed, she really wanted to take care of her yard, but she couldn’t physically do it herself."
She adds that in the course of volunteering, people discover similar stories and can develop a better understanding of the needs of those less fortunate than themselves.
"The National Day of Action helps to break misconceptions and builds closeness in the community, and you leave feeling better," Smith says. "Who doesn’t need more of that?"
More information and registration is available here.
Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of United Way of Washtenaw County.