Alle-Kiski Valley companies allow workers to chip in on United Way's Day of Caring
New Kensington resident Darla Tort spent her Friday giving back to her community instead of her typical day in the office.
Tort was volunteering at the Valley Points YMCA in New Kensington as part of the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Day of Caring.
The company she works for, Wesley Family Services, took part in the day and allowed employees to volunteer at local non-profit organizations.
Tort spent the day painting locker rooms and walls throughout the facility. She said she tries to give back as much as possible to be a good example for her granddaughter and foster child.
“I try to teach them to always look out for your neighbors and community,” she said. “That’s where it starts.”
It was the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s 16th annual Day of Caring. More than 700 volunteers turned out across three counties — 100 more than last year.
“Having this one, big showing of volunteer service really gets people excited, it gets the momentum going,” said United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania spokeswoman Jackie Johns.
“It does a lot to spread the message of the power of volunteerism. You have all these folks out at different projects across this three-county area, other people see us in our bright red shirts and our ‘Day of Caring’ signs.”
It’s been encouraging to see the event grow over the years, said Mary Pflugh, who is co-chairing the United Way’s annual fundraising efforts with her husband, Nick Pflugh.
“I don’t want to say it’s easy for people to write a check, but giving your time is sometimes … harder,” she said.
That’s not to say writing a check is frowned upon. The Day of Caring is also a big moment for the United Way’s fundraising efforts.
The organization hopes to raise $3.7 million this year.
Jason Halfhill, branch director at the New Kensington YMCA, said it’s always nice to have the extra hands to improve the facility and hopefully draw in more members.
“It’s great to have that much help,” he said. “Just one day helps increase our mission.”
Melanie Garee, director at the Valley Points YMCA Kiski Valley branch, echoed those thoughts.
“We’re understaffed as a nonprofit (that) we can’t afford to have the true staffing that we should,” she said. “We couldn’t function as well without these volunteers.”
Volunteers from Allegheny Technologies Inc.’s Vandergrift location painted an exercise room and bathrooms at the Kiski Valley Y in Allegheny Township.
“It’s an amazing chance to help and spruce up the place,” said volunteer Mike Kurzawa. “It’s hard to find people to come out and paint.”
Volunteers from the ATI facilities in Brackenridge and Harrison painted the exterior of the TryLife Center in Lower Burrell.
“I enjoy helping people and I enjoying painting, so it’s a win-win,” said volunteer Karen Sadowsky.
Vera Marelli, TryLife’s executive director, said the organization depends on the generosity of the community to serve families in the Alle-Kiski Valley.
“Generosity comes in many forms, including volunteering in ways we cannot do ourselves,” she said. “Having the outside of our building painted by those employed at ATI has been an extraordinarily blessing to us.”
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @emilybalser.