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Seniors benefit from Days of Caring

Patrick Jones, a campaign executive with United Way of Snohomish County, joins volunteers in touching up the exterior of the Stillaguamish Senior Center’s thrift store on Sept. 13. - Kirk Boxleitner
Patrick Jones, a campaign executive with United Way of Snohomish County, joins volunteers in touching up the exterior of the Stillaguamish Senior Center’s thrift store on Sept. 13.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

SMOKEY POINT — The Stillaguamish Senior Center and its thrift store received a significant facelift thanks to the employees of Absolute Manufacturing’s Senior Aerospace Group and members of the United Way of Snohomish County on Friday, Sept. 13, and Saturday, Sept. 14.

More than half a dozen volunteers swarmed around the thrift store that Friday morning to repaint its exterior, and they were followed that Saturday morning by another wave of volunteers who weeded the grounds, leveled the drive and cleaned out the parking lot.

“If we were paying six or seven guys a rate of $15 an hour for this type of work, that would add up to more than a little bit of money,” said Linda Bowman, who manages the thrift store. “Home Depot gave them a $250 discount on paint and supplies. I just can’t say enough good things about these volunteers. They’ve been very professional and have just gone to town on this place. They even took down the gutters to paint behind them. I’m amazed at all the stuff they’ve gotten done.”

One of the thrift store’s biggest remaining repair jobs was one that was well beyond what the United Way and its volunteers could accomplish in two days, since the front door of the store is still filled in with wood to cover the hole left behind when the glass inside its frame was smashed out during a burglary in early May.

“The estimates we’ve received are that it would cost between $5,000 to $7,000 to replace that door, so that’s far off into the future,” Bowman said. “We are getting alarm systems installed in the thrift store and the senior center for free, though.”

The Stillaguamish Senior Center relies upon its thrift store, located at 18218 Smokey Point Blvd. in Arlington, for funds to support its programs. Its burglary in early May resulted in the loss of not only the front door, but also a laptop, some jewelry and an estimated $150. This compounded the losses of the prior burglary of the senior center itself in late April, which robbed it of nearly $4,000 worth of equipment, including the offices’ computers, a Sony digital camera, a brand-new electronic piano keyboard, a large flatscreen television, a Nintendo Wii, an Xbox Kinect and several games for those systems.

“When an establishment like the senior center’s thrift store has these things that need to be done, but not a lot of staff or resources to do them, how else are they going to do it?” asked Patrick Jones, a campaign executive with United Way of Snohomish County, who grabbed a paintbrush to go to work on the thrift store’s exterior on Sept. 13. “With a big job like this, it’s good to knock it all out at once, before the rains come back.”

Although Jones deemed the Days of Caring among United Way’s biggest days of volunteer activity during the year, he hastened to add that United Way and its volunteers remain active all year round. Neil Parekh, vice president of marketing and communications for United Way of Snohomish County, underscored this message by reporting that United Way projected that Sept. 13-14 would enlist 859 volunteers from 73 different teams participating in 41 projects to benefit 30 different agencies and cities throughout Snohomish County.

“That’s a total of 3,746 hours, which at the standard economic value for volunteer time of $22.69 per hour would come up to $85,000,” Parekh said. “There was also a big push on social media this year. Everyone used the hashtag #UWSCDoC, and almost all of the Tweets, Instagram pictures and many of the Facebook posts can be seen at www.tagboard.com/uwscdoc.”

Jones’ view of the Days of Caring as a simple matter of neighbors helping neighbors was shared by Trina Massingale, the human resources manager for the Absolute Manufacturing employees who took up paintbrushes and rollers at the Stillaguamish Senior Center’s thrift store on Sept. 13.

“Our seniors have supported the community, so we’re glad to help give something back,” Massingale said. “We look forward to taking part in the United Way’s Days of Caring each year. We take pride in pitching in for the community, and these projects keep it local.”

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