Published September 18, 2013
As Jennifer Berryman landscaped the front lawn of Bristol Homes on Wednesday, she remembered painting the nonprofit assisted living facility a year earlier.
“Coming here this morning, the apartments we painted still look wonderful,” she said. “They are going to look great for a long time.”
Berryman, an executive assistant in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, has been volunteering at Bristol Homes for the past three years as part of Western New York's Day of Caring. For her, the reward is seeing the long-term effect of her work.
On Wednesday, Berryman was one of more than 200 UB volunteers who turned out for the 21st annual Day of Caring. The event, organized by United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, mobilizes thousands of people to complete hands-on community service projects in the region.
UB has participated for 19 of the past 21 years, and this
Wednesday's turnout of 220 UB volunteers was a record, according to
Amy Myszka, UB’s volunteer coordinator and director of
Wellness and Work/Life Balance.
Bristol Homes was one of 16 sites that UB employees visited, completing tasks from pulling weeds to organizing dishes in the kitchen.
Some volunteers had personal reasons for taking part.
“I came from a not-for-profit field that received Day of Caring help, so when an opportunity came to give back, it was an awesome way to complete the cycle,” said Lauren Garlapo, accreditation administrator in the Office of Graduate Medical Education. Garlapo also volunteered at Bristol Homes.
The assisted living facility’s activities director, Beth Mack, expressed her gratitude for the work put in by the UB community. Bristol Homes has a small staff, “so we could never get all of this done on our own,” Mack said. “United Way is very gracious in getting volunteers here. It helps us out quite a bit.”
In addition to veteran volunteers, students in the UB MBA program participated in Day of Caring this year as part of their orientation, helping to bring the number of UB workers to an all-time high.
“It just makes the city a better place,” said Jim Gordon, a lead programmer/analyst from University Libraries, as he pulled a rake through the garden at Compass House, a shelter for inner-city children.
“We’re in our office bubble day in and day out,” and the Day of Caring is a great way to get out into the community, said Colleen Allen, director of human resources in the Office of Graduate Medical Education.
With more than 3,500 volunteers from across Western New York donating time and energy through this year’s Day of Caring, Garlapo summed up the sentiment that many participants were feeling: “If everyone does just a small part, the whole world is better for it.”