Worthington News

20th annual Service Day

Volunteers show up en masse to help seniors with chores

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Volunteer Mark Rooks pulls weeds from the yard of Highland Terrace resident Catherine Letcher on May 4. Volunteers gathered in Worthington for the 20th annual Service Day, when senior citizens throughout the local communities could request assistance for their spring cleaning duties.

As the 20th annual Service Day drew to a close, volunteer Dottie Hursey summed up the experience in two simple sentences.

"I feel good," she said. "I feel tired."

As well she and the other 70 volunteers should after three hours of washing windows, weeding gardens, spreading mulch, turning mattresses, changing light bulbs, scrubbing floors and generally doing whatever needed to be done at the homes of 75 Worthington senior citizens.

This year's Leadership Worthington Service Day was 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 4.

For the past two decades, volunteers of all ages simply have shown up at Kilbourne Middle School on the first Saturday morning in May. They have breakfast and then head out to the homes of seniors who have requested help through Leadership Worthington.

Occasionally, volunteers will get an unusual request. One woman this year asked for someone to teach her how to use the computer that her son had given her. A local librarian took on the task and will return to her home for more lessons.

Mostly, the jobs are typical spring cleaning jobs. And many of the same seniors come back year after year with requests for help.

Some also send thank-you notes and even request that the same volunteers return year after year. All of which is part of the "I feel good" part for the volunteers.

"A lot of volunteers come back and say the people are really grateful and very friendly," said Jim Sauer, who co-chaired the 2013 Service Day with Rose Byrd.

"One woman talked to us the whole time we were there," Byrd said. "We barely had enough time to make the bed."

Service Day was started as a project by a group of adult students in the Leadership Worthington Class of 1993.

Many of the volunteers are LW alumni. Others are families or organizations just wanting to help.

This year, volunteers ranged in age from 5 to 60, with slightly more adults than children, LW director Joan Bird said.

Each year, the number of volunteers has been 70 to 90. That is a respectable turnout for a day when so many other events vie for time and commitment, she said.

Longtime Service Day volunteer Ciss Sweeney would like to see even more people volunteer, she said.

The help is needed, and the rewards are great, Sauer said.

"It gives people perspective on what is important," he said.