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Volunteers spread across Muskogee and Tahlequah during Day of Caring

Muskogee Phoenix - 9/16/2023

Sep. 16—Volunteers made a difference at Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy and Neuro-Muscular Center on Friday.

Patti Mitchell, the center's executive director, said about 20 volunteers from OG&E helped clear tree limbs and brush to the fence line, added mulch to shrubs.

"They fixed our bicycles, our wheelchairs, they caulked our windows, they removed a mound of dirt, they pressure washed, they fixed a big toy inside," she said. "City of Tahlequah brought a dumpster, Lowe's brought mulch and shrubs, and Arvest Bank is doing the pressure washing. We had about 30 people come today. It was fantastic."

Scores of volunteers spread out across Muskogee and Tahlequah on Friday during the Lake Area United Way's annual Day of Caring. They helped at Fostering Hope, Gospel Rescue Mission, the Women in Safe Homes shelter, Circle of Care foster and prevention services in Tahlequah, among other charities.

About 25 Georgia-Pacific volunteers did a variety of jobs at the Whitlock WISH House, a bed and breakfast that helps raise money for Women in Safe Homes (WISH). Some did electrical work inside. Some swept leaves off the roof. Some worked flower beds. Some tore down an old gazebo deck.

"I think our focus today is outdoor work," engineer Chad Bergman said as he shoveled a front flower bed. He said he expected volunteers to work six to eight hours.

"It's usually a full day for us," he said. "For me it's just a great opportunity to give back. We appreciate working for a company that wants to support the community and wants to encourage us to come out here."

Georgia-Pacific retirees Gemma and Loren Ferren also helped at the WISH House.

"I've been retired for six years, and we've been coming to the WISH House for 10 years," said Gemma Ferren, who was an administrative assistant.

She said she has been involved with United Way projects since the 1980s.

The volunteers got their marching orders, inspiration and plenty of nutrition at a kick-off breakfast at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

LAUW Executive Director Jenny Jamison said the Day of Caring "is like my Christmas."

"It's my favorite day," she said, as she showed a Power Point of 17 partners helped by Lake Area United Way.

"We are thrilled to continue to support the ones we have been supporting for years," she said.

Jamison said new partners include the Salvation Army, Bridges Out of Poverty, Green Country Behavioral Health Services and Boy Scouts of America Indian Nations Council.

Jamison said this year's United Way campaign goal is $525,000, a 5 percent increase over last year.

"We're going to do it," she said, eliciting applause from the volunteers.


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