Rainy weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of volunteers across Wayne County on June 21 as they participated in the United Way of Wayne County’s Day of Action.
United Way Day of Action is an enterprise-wide effort each year on June 21 to recognize volunteering as an essential part of United Way’s brand promise, and engage individuals in our work in education, financial stability, and health.
“Day of Action is the volunteer event I look forward to the most because it brings a diverse group of people working together on a specific project that directly and immediately impacts the participating local nonprofits” United Way of Wayne County Community Investment and Engagement Director Pilar Parks said. “The volunteers not only get to help the nonprofits with the day project but they also learn about that nonprofit’s mission, volunteer needs, and the services they provide to the community. Having a day that highlights all those things is good for Wayne County as a whole because of the awareness it creates. It brings people and resources together, which is our mission.”
At Hydrant Church volunteers worked to improve landscaping around the church, as well as the playground and other outdoor spaces.
“For us, these volunteers are a blessing,” said Hydrant Church Executive Pastor Michael Shearin. “They came in and they knew what they were doing. If we did an all hands on deck call out (to our congregation) we may not get this many people. And we certainly wouldn’t get this many people with knowledge and expertise. They’ve even given us knowledge on other things that we want to do.”
The neighborhood off Hwy 111 surrounding Hydrant Church is not centrally located to any parks or other common spaces. Children and teenagers living in the area often migrate to the basketball court and playground located outside Hydrant Church.
“For us, I think the really big thing is there is no park in this area,” Hydrant Church lead pastor Liz Rick said. “This has become the park for the neighborhood behind us. On any given day, we could have eighteen teenagers out here playing. To be able to create a nice space for the community to come and play, we don’t have the resources or the people, but to have the community come out and help is really important.”
A church focused on serving the local community, Hydrant Church feeds a hundred families each month through its food pantry, and plans to open a pay-what-you-can restaurant known as The Table within the next year.
“The idea (behind The Table) is you can pay by volunteering, you can pay nothing at all or pay the listed price,” Rick said. “We’re all about paying it forward. We’re hoping to open within the next year. We’ll hit it really aggressively starting August 1. We’ve got our non-profit status, so now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of raising money and finding corporate sponsors.”
At Sarah’s Sewing on East Walnut Street, volunteers worked on Bunny Loveys, a sewing project with the Wayne County Public Library. Bunny Loveys are included in the literacy bags given to newborns at UNC Health Wayne. The Bunny Loveys program is an extension of READ Wayne Coalition dedicated to providing support and resources to children from birth to age eight and their families to ensure that all children are proficient readers by the end of third grade.
The books and the Bunny Lovey included in the literacy bags given to newborns at UNC Health Wayne are made possible in part by The Friends of the Wayne County Public Library. UNC Health Wayne provides the bags themselves.
“The work of READ Wayne is led by the library,” said Heather Gray, literacy and outreach librarian with the Wayne County Public Library. “The whole process started with Goldsboro Pediatrics and Dr. (David) Tayloe. At the pediatrics office they really realized in looking at trends for our state and our community that third graders were not reaching their reading targets. And with such a significant portion of students not reaching that reading target, it caused a lot of concern. We know that third grade reading achievement is highly correlated with predictions for future earnings and just future measures of success. So, we want to give our students the best chance of having access to their version of success.”
The READ Wayne Coalition began in 2014 and is led by the Wayne County Public Library. Leading partners include Wayne County Public Schools, Wayne Community College, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Communities Supporting Schools Wayne County, WAGES, Partnership for Children Wayne County, and Goldsboro Pediatrics.
“We’ve had some starts and stops because we’ve had turnover, and there’s never been any funding,” said Wayne County Public Library Director Donna Phillips. “It is a true collaborative and has been since day one. The Raising A Reader program through the public library, the Reach Out and Read program through Goldsboro Pediatrics, and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library through the Partnership for Children are all working to make sure children have a more robust collection of books in their home library.”
At the Red Cross office on George Street, volunteers assisted Totes of Hope in assembling care packages for military veterans, as well as active duty military members and their families. The care packages included essentials such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, razors, first aid kits, and socks among other things.
“These are supplies that are not always given to (active military or veterans),” said Pat Braden who specializes in service to the armed forces with the Red Cross. “Having these volunteers here is awesome. Our military doesn’t always get as much as they need. These are gifts they can take if maybe they’re deploying.”
Other service projects that took place included the free installation of smoke detectors in two separate neighborhoods in Goldsboro, and yard work at the Wayne County Museum. A beautification of the music alley on John Street between Torero’s and the former Jay’s Burger location also took place. Volunteers from First Baptist Church worked to build wheelchair ramps at two separate locations.