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Day Of Action Volunteers Take On Local Projects



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A cool and sunny Wednesday morning found Dawn Ussery pulling out weeds at The Victory Garden. She, Maureen Friedman, and Caryne-Lynne Davis, volunteers from The Taunton Press, cleaned up several rows at the community garden in Fairfield Hills, just one of many teams participating in the United Way of Western Connecticut’s (UWWC) Day of Action on June 3. The garden’s harvest is donated to the town’s food pantries.

The women were part of nearly 550 volunteers from 27 companies completing projects in towns including Newtown, according to UWWC. Volunteer efforts benefited nonprofits throughout the region. Also at work in Newtown was a team from Newtown Savings Bank doing outdoor gardening, yardwork and maintenance at the Children’s Adventure Center, and a team from UTC Aerospace worked on the exterior paint, driveway, and landscaping at the Ability Beyond group home, 2 Old Hawleyville Road.

Noting the fruit trees, a gift of kindness following 12/14, and the many rows tended by volunteers that will provide fresh produce for the food pantries again this year, Ms Ussery said, “It’s an honor to be working here.” Ms Friedman joked that the garden’s founder, Harvey Pessin, had requested the “professional weeders” to help again this year. With her trowel in hand, Ms Ussery added, “We’re not afraid of the dirt.”

Near the garden’s entrance was a team from Target of Bethel. The men and women also tended to rows, set down mulch, and cleared weeds.

Kim Morgan, CEO of United Way of Western Connecticut, said in a recent release, “Volunteers are the foundation of every successful organization and every thriving community. We are grateful to be surrounded by so many socially responsible companies who truly value volunteerism and who encourage their employees to dedicate a workday to volunteering. It is because of their leadership and commitment to our community that so much important work is done and so many lives are changed.”

Day of Action provides a financial benefit to the nonprofits, potentially saving the organizations thousands of dollars in maintenance projects.

Area companies have signed up for projects such as reading to children, coordinating a community baby shower for families in need, organizing local food drives, planting vegetable gardens, cleaning up playgrounds, landscaping, and painting.

In addition to the volunteer efforts, local businesses have donated thousands of dollars worth of materials and supplies in support of Day of Action projects. According to The Independent Sector’s 2015 National Volunteer Service formula, the established benchmark for volunteer service value, this one day of volunteering represents more than $76,000 in economic value to the community.

From front, left row, are Target of Bethel volunteers who worked in the Victory Garden in Fairfield Hills this week: Aparna Sethi, Lisa Lee, Gabby Tejeda, and Matt Krey; right row, Gazel Hernandez, Amy Lawrence, Yolda Espimal, Michell Egley, and Jen Castonguay.
Dawn Ussery dug out a thick patch of weeds Wednesday, June 3, as she and coworkers volunteered in the United Way of Western Connecticut’s annual Day of Action. With Ms Ussery, at right, were Maureen Friedman and Caryne-Lynne Davis, forming the Taunton Press team. They spent their morning and part of the afternoon doing work at the Victory Garden in Fairfield Hills. The garden, founded by resident Harvey Pessin several years ago, benefits the Faith Food Pantry, Nunnawauk Meadows residents, and Newtown Social Services.
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