Monday, May 20, 2013
Staff Photo by Derek Davis: Laurie Bridgeman of Portland paints a fence at Camp Ketcha in Scarborough, Thursday, May 21, 2009, while participating in the United Ways Day of Caring. Volunteers, including groups from Unum Provident and TD Banknorth, spent the day at the camp painting and improving trails.
Staff Photo by Derek Davis: David Gilbert of Lewiston, left, and Craig Beisel of Portland, who both work at Unum Provident, clear debris from a trail at Camp Ketcha in Scarborough, Thursday, May 21, 2009, during the United Ways Day of Caring. Volunteers, including groups from Unum Provident and TD Banknorth, spent the day at the camp painting and improving trails.
PORTLAND — Instead of sitting at their desks at Maine Employers' Mutual Insurance Co. on Thursday, Steve Richard and Judy Welch spent the day painting doors and trim at the St. Lawrence Arts and Community Center at 76 Congress St.
They were among the 1,020 volunteers who showed up to plant gardens, sweep parking lots, widen hiking trails and do other jobs at dozens of nonprofit agencies across Greater Portland during the United Way of Greater Portland's 17th Day of Caring.
''It's about community. You feel good at the end of the day,'' said Welch, who has volunteered for the event for the past decade.
Being able to make a visible difference by sprucing up the arts center's building and grounds gave her immense satisfaction, she said.
Every year, volunteers fan out across the region to help nonprofits with maintenance, gardening and others tasks for the day. This year, 56 agencies asked for help on a total of 89 projects.
Liz Smith, United Way's spokeswoman, said that by the end of the day, volunteers had contributed 5,000 hours of their time. Smith said that adds up to more than $101,000, based on volunteer time valued at $20.25 an hour.
While many of the volunteers got to spend the warm spring day outdoors, other volunteers worked indoors.
Teams of marketing, advertising and design professionals provided free marketing and advertising advice to 30 agencies as part of United Way's Heart of Sharing.
The event was created 13 years ago, when Kim Laramy, a former United Way employee who now works for Ethos Marketing and Design in Westbrook, decided that marketing and public relations expertise was probably more valuable than anything else they could volunteer to nonprofits.
The teams meet one-on-one with the nonprofit agencies to come up with strategies to help the agencies get their messages out to the community.
Among those receiving help from the 85 volunteers Thursday was Linda Davison, who cofounded The Circle of Giving in Waterboro with her late husband, Ken.
The Circle of Giving provides cancer patients with support services such as lawn care, rides to medical appointments and bags filled with items that are useful during chemotherapy.
Her volunteer team urged her to reach out to sponsors who might be willing to help, such as drug companies that make the products she includes in the bags she distributes to hospitals.
''It doesn't hurt to ask,'' said Jeannine Lefevre, an account executive for WMTW-TV in Portland.
Back at the St. Lawrence Arts and Community Center, Executive Director Deirdre Nice set up speakers so the 16 volunteers could paint and garden to music.
She said the volunteer help makes a big difference and she is amazed that, year after year, businesses are willing to send out their volunteers, especially during an economic recession.
''They ask for nothing and are just generous with their time. Every year it is meaningful,'' Nice said.
Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: