09/10/06 — Days Caring this week

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Days Caring this week

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 10, 2006 2:02 AM

Wayne County residents gathered on the steps of the courthouse Friday to kick off a week of caring for their neighbors.

Days of Caring will run through Sept. 16. The event, which is sponsored by United Way and Volunteer Wayne, asks individuals, civic groups and businesses to pick a community service project and complete it during the week-long event.

At the kickoff ceremony, United Way 2006 campaign director Geoff Hulse encouraged everyone to volunteer and to consider giving of their time and energy not just during Days of Caring, but at other times, too.

"I was born and raised in Wayne County and love the spirit of volunteerism," he said. "We are indeed neighbors helping neighbors. It is important to help one another, not just during this week, but throughout the year."

Featured speaker Mary Ann Dudley, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Wayne County, said Days of Caring projects do not have to be large-scale. Activities such as reading to a child, painting a floor, doing landscape projects or collecting food, allow a volunteer to touch a life.

"So whether you are serving meals, giving blood, tutoring a child, teaching lifeskills, sheltering the abused, assisting neighbors when disaster occurs or giving a child a hug, you become the ripples in the pond where kindness spreads outward, reaching and touching others that will change a life forever," she said.

Members of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base honor guard posted the colors at Friday's ceremony, while Airman Dana Kirsch sang the national anthem.

The Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross canteen provided refreshments.

During the ceremony, Ethel Mae Baldwin received the Lifetime Volunteer Award. The honor is part of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award program, sponsored by the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.

The purpose of the program is to recognize the best of the American spirit and to encourage all citizens to improve their communities through volunteer service and civic participation.

Mrs. Baldwin, 78, has given more than 4,000 hours to Wayne County at various agencies. Her special passion is working with the visually impaired through the Viola Titus Friendship Club, which helps the visually impaired build lifeskills to enable them to live independently at home instead of being placed in an institution.

She also volunteers with United Way and writes articles for her state church organization.

She was presented a certificate of achievement, a congratulatory letter from the President's Council on Service and Participation and a President's Award pin.

There are 40 projects registered for Days of Caring, and some still need volunteers.

This year the focus is making a promise to those in need in the community for a better life through acts of caring.

Last year, Days of Caring linked more than 1,000 Wayne County volunteers with more than 18 local projects that made a difference in the lives of 2,576 people, said Barbara Stiles, Volunteer Wayne director.

There is still time to sign up for a project, she said. Just call Volunteer Wayne at 735-5151.