United Way of Northwest Louisiana’s annual Day of Caring is one of the largest single-day, community–wide volunteer efforts in Northwest Louisiana. This unique volunteer opportunity provides dozens of nonprofits in need with teams of eager volunteers that represent approximately 50 local businesses. Being our most anticipated day of the year, Day of Caring, like many events, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To honor the volunteers and local nonprofits who have supported Day of Caring in the past, we want to highlight the impact that their contributions to the annual event have had on our community.
Just last year, Day of Caring amassed more than 700 volunteers for Shreveport-Bossier and Minden Day of Caring, saving local nonprofits $46,134 in labor costs. Jennifer Horton, Vice President of Operations and Community Investment at United Way of NWLA, explained, “Most people don’t realize that our local nonprofits have projects year-round that they might not be able to accomplish due to a lack of manpower or funding. Day of Caring is our opportunity to work alongside our donors and get our hands dirty together to help our nonprofit partners accomplish their goals.” Horton added, “Day of Caring is our most anticipated annual event. Behind all the excitement is a wonderful display of United Way supporters coming together to support our local nonprofit community.”
Providence House, a residential nonprofit facility for homeless families with children, believes volunteers are an asset in giving the homeless hope. For several years, Providence House has served as one of many nonprofit volunteer locations for Day of Caring participants. Past volunteer teams of theirs have included CenterPoint Energy, Glazer’s Beer and Beverage, Krewe of Harambe, and Walmart Market 542. Millie Flowers, Director of Marketing & Community Engagement at Providence House, states, “Volunteers are important to us because it shows our families that the community truly does care about the well-being of homeless families.” Additionally, it gives volunteers insight into how Providence House operates. “We really enjoy showing volunteers at Day of Caring what it looks like behind the doors of Providence House. A lot of people are taken aback that we’re not just a room full of beds. We’re actually providing a home for homeless families,” says Flowers.
AEP SWEPCO & IBEW Local 329 work together to develop innovative solutions that power communities and improve lives. Each year, their volunteer team, which grew to nearly 70 members in 2019, completes five community projects. Some of the volunteer nonprofit sites AEP SWEPCO & IBEW Local 329 have served include Renesting Project, Holy Angels, American Red Cross, Common Ground, Bossier Council on Aging, and more. When volunteer teams come together, they often do not realize how volunteering provides personal and professional development. We asked a life-long volunteer, Twila Dunlap, Customer Services Coordinator Associate at AEP SWEPCO, to reflect on her past volunteer experience. “I’ve always loved Day of Caring because it’s a great team-building experience, and we get to support the agencies in our community. It’s magical to see the big picture and how it all comes together,” Dunlap noted. Annually, Ms. Dunlap serves as AEP SWEPCO’s volunteer team captain and has been giving to United Way since the late 1980s.
Day of Caring is a magical sight. This one–day area–wide call to action unifies our community and improves the conditions in which we live. Many of our volunteers wonder how they can make a difference during this challenging period. On May 8th, supporters can still engage with local nonprofits and help meet their immediate needs through participation in our Essential Needs Drive. Participating nonprofits have provided a list of essential items needed and a drop-off location where they are accepting donations.
4 Ways to Support Local Nonprofit Through the Essential Drive
Although we are apart, we are still United from Home.
- Hygienic Items
Many local nonprofits provide 24-hour care for our most vulnerable community members. These individuals who rely on these services are in need of hygienic items like body wash, adult depends, shampoo, laundry detergent and more. By providing these necessities, individuals can maintain self-care during this pandemic.
- Gently Used Clothing
Pajamas and gently used clothing have become imperative for children in foster care. These items provide comfort and makes their first night away from home easier for everyone.
- Personal Protective Equipment
During this strenuous time, the labors of nonprofits have continued in the background. As our community needs have increased, many local nonprofits are working continuously to meet them. In order to continue their efforts, it is crucial they have the protective equipment they need such as masks, gloves, gowns, hand sanitizer and more.
- Pledge Your Support to Organizations Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis
United Way of NWLA is working across the community to help individuals impacted most by COVID-19, such as front line workers and individuals affected in the tourism and hospitality industry. These members of our community, along with ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), may lack access to their essential needs. A donation to the United for NWLA Emergency Response Fund allows us to assist our neighbors with rent, utility assistance, access to healthy food, and affordable medication during this time of crisis.
To learn more about how you can be United from Home on May 8th, please visit our website at unitedwaynwla.org/essential-needs-drives.