Volunteers help nonprofit organizations

Published 11:02 pm Friday, September 14, 2012

Charlie Henderson, Hampton Roads market president for Bank of America, paints an interior wall at the YMCA’s Camp Arrowhead on Kenyon Road Friday afternoon. More than 1,500 volunteers from 71 companies provided support for nonprofit organizations, including reading to children, picking up trash and more.

By Matthew A. Ward and Tracy Agnew

Staff Writers

More than 1,500 volunteers from 71 companies fanned out across South Hampton Roads on Friday to participate in United Way’s 21st Day of Caring.

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Six organizations in Suffolk, including the YMCA and the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance, benefited from the influx of volunteers.

“Their help has been invaluable,” said Lorraine Worrell of the YMCA. “The things that they’ve accomplished would take us weeks to get done. It’s really wonderful that the United Way coordinates this event.”

Bank of America teams painted interior walls at the YMCA’s Camp Arrowhead on Kenyon Road and performed several tasks at the Suffolk Family YMCA on Godwin Boulevard, including winterizing the outdoor pool.

Some of the volunteers at Bennett’s Creek Park Friday, collecting trash during the United Way of South Hampton Roads’ 21st Day of Caring, pause for a photo op.

“It’s an opportunity for the Bank of America associates to join with others to give back to the nonprofit sector that does so much in the Hampton Roads area,” said Charlie Henderson, Hampton Roads market president for Bank of America.

United Way Vice President of Marketing Pam Smith-Rodden said everyone seemed to be having a good time on Friday.

“The volunteers were excited to be there, and the agencies were just delighted to have them,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to bring the community together.”

At Bennett’s Creek Park, volunteers from Suffolk Police Department, led by Nansemond River Preservation Alliance Executive Director Elizabeth Taraski, cleaned up trash along the water’s edge.

“It’s part of the alliance’s philosophy to collaborate with different organizations, and this is an example,” Taraski said.

The 10 volunteers skirted the shoreline through the woods Friday morning, picking up things like fast-food packaging and cigarette butts.

“It’s a general clean-up … after the major storm events that we have had over the last three weeks,” Taraski said.

Opinions were split among the troops as to the main culprit of the trash. Sgt. Mark Erie said, “It’s not illegal dumpers, but more careless boaters who allow debris to come to shore.”

According to Capt. Steve Patterson, some users of the park’s disc golf course need to clean up their act. “I don’t think it’s boaters, I think it’s recreational users,” he said.

Erie said he likes to boat and fish in Suffolk waterways, and “wanted to make sure everything is safe and clean … so we are catching high-quality fish that aren’t contaminated, and we don’t have to worry about being sick when in the water.”

Chief of Animal Control Meghann Lanier said she was motivated to volunteer because she and her husband like to fish.

Patterson said their efforts were making a difference. “We’ve got several full bags around here, and I think we’re making a dent,” he said.

Other area volunteer sites included Children’s Harbor Suffolk, ForKids Inc., The Children’s Center, The Salvation Army, the Carrollton Ruritan Club and several private homes in Isle of Wight County.