Day of Caring: United Way volunteers lend a hand across Westmoreland, region

September 13, 2019

by Debra Erdley, Stephen Huba and Paul Peirce

TribLive - Bill Magva showed up bright and early Friday morning, one of many volunteers in a sea of yellow “Live United” t-shirts at Hempfield Park.

He was among some 675 volunteers who spread out to 66 sites across the region to paint, pull weeds, clear brush and read to small children as part of the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s 17th Annual Day of Caring.The event pairs volunteers with service projects with nonprofits at sites throughout Westmoreland, Fayette and southern Armstrong counties.

United Way spokeswoman Kelly McGuire said the annual daylong event helps strengthen the community and provides the United Way’s partner agencies with extra helping hands that translate into significant savings in labor costs.

Magva, who has volunteered every year since the first Day of Caring, said employees at Westmoreland County Community College are more than willing to lend a hand at the annual event. Over the years, his team has tackled projects at a local elementary school, the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, the YWCA, the YMCA, Mammoth Park, a local bike trail, the Uniontown Historical Society, the Westmoreland County Food Bank and the Westmoreland County Blind Association.

“I think we’re headed to Achievea this year,” he said, as volunteers and team leaders poured into the park to register.

Southwest Greensburg

About a dozen University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg students spent the morning repainting the exterior of Tri-City Meals on Wheels, 716 Foster St.

The nonprofit organization was awarded a 2019 Fresh Paint Days grant from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, allowing it to receive up to 20 gallons of paint from Behr and a gift card for painting supplies from The Home Depot Foundation.

“We had to paint the building between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30, which coincided perfectly with the United Way’s Day of Caring,” said volunteer Tom Niggel, who wrote the grant proposal.

Students fanned out to paint the 40-by-60-foot block building with brushes and long-handled rollers. Southwest Greensburg Borough owns the building and leases it to Meals on Wheels for $1 a year, Niggel said. Meals on Wheels is responsible for the utilities.

The nonprofit has operated from the building since 1970, using it to prepare and deliver weekday meals to 160 to 170 seniors in Greensburg, Fort Allen, West Point, Jeannette and Harrison City. Each meal costs $3.50 and includes a tray of hot foods along with bread, dessert and milk.

“Sometimes, we are the only daily contact that our clients have,” Niggel said.

To request meal service, call 724-837-6117 between 7 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. weekdays.

Penn Township

Seventy-one-year-old Sandy Scott has always taken pride in the appearance of her yard in Penn Township. She admitted the untrimmed hedges and weeds in her garden and yard have been grating.

Scott just can’t get around like she used to with limited mobility and lugging around a portable oxygen tank.

“My husband, Robert, died in May 2018, and I just can’t do the work myself anymore,” Scott said.

So when six volunteers from Hefren-Tillotson’s financial management office in Greensburg appeared at her her home of 25 years on Boxcartown Road on Friday to do outdoor chores, Scott admitted she was “just thrilled.”

“You really don’t realize what a relief this is. It’s a good day today and in my condition… you don’t have too many of those anymore,” Scott said.

Hefren-Tillotson’s Nicole Heide and Jason Hitchman said the workers were glad to take a break from the daily office grind to help someone in need.

“I think it helps with office camaraderie, and you’re helping someone in the community at the same time,” Hitchman said.

Another volunteer with the financial management company, Maria Yezovich, said she was excited because Scott lives near her residence “just 20 minutes away.” Crews from the company have been dispatched to other locales in recent years, including Latrobe’s Legion Keener Park for painting projects.

“It’s nice,” Yezovich said. “I feel like I’m helping a neighbor out here.”

Scott oversaw the weed trimming and pulling from the confines of her front porch, answering any questions about the property from the volunteers.

The porch stairs were also slated to get a painting “touch up,” according to Heide.

“This is a blessing,” Scott said. “This really means a lot to me and the people they send out here are so kind and you can tell they really do care.”

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