Employees at the Willow Domestic Violence Center have wanted to transform the center’s look for a while now. But they’ve lacked the funds to pull it off.
That changed Saturday with United Way Roger Hill Volunteer Center’s annual Day of Caring, an event where dozens of volunteers spend the day helping local agencies and schools. What volunteers do runs the gamut: cleaning, painting, planting, landscaping.
At the Willow center, 10 volunteers painted two rooms with supplies donated from Walmart. They used colors aimed to be more welcoming than the abrasive yellow that’s been on the walls for the last couple of years. One of the rooms is a playroom for children of domestic violence victims.
“(The room exists) so their children can be temporarily distracted while Mom is sharing about the violence that is going on in their home, or just an opportunity for kids to play and to learn and discover things,” said Becca Burns, director of volunteer services at the center. “Having that (room) painted is really beneficial for the kids. Not only is it a safe and welcoming place, but if it’s painted it shows that we actually care about it.”
Before the paint job, the wall was riddled with crayon graffiti, scuff marks and scratches. Megan Waggy, 22, has volunteered at the center for four years now, representing her sorority Alpha Chi Omega. Waggy said the center needed a fresher look.
“I’ve worked in this building before, so I know how much it needs renovation sometimes,” Waggy said. “(Volunteering) is something we can easily help out with. It’s on the weekend, and we’re not doing anything on Saturday afternoons, so we might as well come help paint.”
To benefit from Day of Caring, staff at the Willow center had to fill out a one-page application outlining the sort of work they needed. Getting enough volunteers was easy enough. More than 200 people volunteered at 20 sites Saturday. More than half were first-timers. But Day of Caring is often a starting point for prolonged volunteer work, said Shannon Reid, volunteer coordinator for the United Way Roger Hill Volunteer Center.
“It’s a great introduction to volunteering in Douglas County,” Reid said. “Our hope is they get the volunteer bug.”
Day of Caring also helps agencies and schools knock out large-scale projects in one day.
Eighteen volunteers showed up at Prairie Park School, 2711 Kensington Road. They trimmed bushes, discarded debris, tended gardens and flower beds, and painted two rooms, including the kitchen.
“It helps if we can do a blitz and get it taken care of quickly,” said Dave Williams, principal of Prairie Park. “(The volunteers) really have done an excellent job. ... They’ve done a really great job with the detail.”
Day of Caring enabled many local agencies, the Willow center among them, to complete projects that otherwise would have been unaccomplishable.
“There is just no way the Willow could afford to do something like this,” Burns said. “We just don’t have the money in our budget to be able to hire professionals to do this, so having the 15 or so volunteers take time out of their Saturday to paint is unbelievably generous.”