It's not about the money

Volunteers tackle community projects on Day of Caring

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Rory Stowell, with Coeur d'Alene Mines, takes a break Thursday while talking to another volunteer while painting a building at the Idaho Youth Ranch while participating in the United Way of Kootenai County's 5th annual Day of Caring.

COEUR d'ALENE - Cindy Wood put it simply.

Without the volunteers from Magnuson, McHugh and Company, Thursday's reorganization of Family Promise headquarters would not have happened.

"Since we knew the Day of Caring was coming, we have been counting down the days," Wood said as she joined staff of the Coeur d'Alene accounting firm in moving supplies from one storage room to another, to make room for an office.

Kacie Tollefson, employee of Magnuson, McHugh, was one of those volunteers busy Thursday morning and afternoon cleaning and clearing shelves as part of United Way of Kootenai County's fifth annual Day of Caring.

She audits nonprofits and knows they're often short of staff, money and resources to meet demands for services, so she was glad to pitch in.

"Dollars don't make this happen," Tollefson said. "It's volunteer hours."

Around 300 volunteers - including CEOs and top managers - left their desks and offices for a day and took on 33 community projects to benefit nonprofits and those who most need help. They swept, raked, scrubbed, painted, pulled weeds, split and delivered firewood to the elderly and provided food to the homeless.

The United Way of Kootenai County kicked off the campaign with a breakfast before crews headed out.

"US Bank is setting the pace to this year's campaign, raising over $96,000 to be invested to help improve lives in our community," said Caryl Johnston, United Way of Kootenai County executive director.

Eve Knudtsen has taken the torch from her father, Wayne Knudtsen, and is campaign chair for this year's United Way fundraising activities.

Wayne Knudtsen was part of founding community leaders who initiated the United Way in Kootenai County 55 years ago.

"Eve is continuing the legacy of her father and leading the effort to expand this year's fundraising efforts," Johnston said.

Cheryl Haas, events manager at Idaho Youth Ranch, appreciated the spirit and elbow grease of volunteers who were sprucing up the lawns and gardens, and painting the school house.

"It's just going to look beautiful when they're done," she said.

Haas said the residential home for teenage boys doesn't have the funds to dedicate staff to maintaining the grounds. Day of Caring, she said, is "a wonderful way to interact with community volunteers and let people know what we do inside these walls."'

"Part of our mission is to help these boys before they get into the juvenile justice merry-go-round," she said.

Coeur's Rory Stowell said the company likes community outreach, and Day of Caring provided an opportunity to do exactly that.

"We like to get our employees involved, so this was a perfect format for that," he said.

Wood said the improvements at Family Promise, which assists homeless with gaining independence, will mean more space for staff and volunteers, and more privacy for clients.

"Guests now will talk to a case manager and not the other person that's in the office," she said.

Haas said Day of Caring is great not just for the recipients, but for the community. The strong turnout, too, shows just how much folks living here care about others.

"I've never seen a town that has so much heart," she said.

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Rebecca Hussey, left, and Tacy Gillespie work on their section of a building at the Idaho Youth Ranch while volunteering with other employees from Coeur d'Alene Mines.

 

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Paige Woods, left, and Charyl Ragan help organize a supply closet at Family Promise in downtown Coeur d'Alene as they volunteer with other employees from Magnuson, McHugh & Company.

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