October 21, 2021

Volunteers show they care

Food sorted, showers rebuilt, weeds pulled

Kevin Conlon/city editor

Volunteers from Intertek and SUNY Cortland work Wednesday on landscaping a city-owned lot at Clinton Avenue and River Street as part of the annual United Way Day of Caring.

Fourteen people spread across a city lot at Clinton Avenue and River Street in Cortland, in front of an empty motel under renovation Wednesday morning, pulling weeds and spreading mulch.

Several miles away in McGraw, about 40 high school students scattered across the village, sprucing up properties, including village hall, the historical society and the public library.

Between them, carpenters gathered at Yaman Park to rebuild an outdoor shower area near the beach and benches.

The groups were among several volunteering Wednesday across Cortland County in the annual United Way Day of Caring. It was an opportunity to give back to the community and help others.

“This is Intertek getting out into the community,” Kelly Chapman, an engineering supervisor for the Cortlandville testing laboratory, said while taking a break from her chores with the group of fellow employees and SUNY Cortland volunteers.

Company employees also cleaned parks in the city of Cortland around Earth Day this year, Chapman said, and took part in last year’s Day of Caring, too.

The Intertek volunteers planned to head over to Yaman Park in the city after finishing their landscaping to help five union carpenters and others as they replaced boards supporting walls around an open-air shower area and did other improvements.

John Duwel, a member of North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters Local 277, was among the carpenters pulling boards that make up the walls of the shower area.

Kevin Conlon/city editor

Carpenters John Duwell, left, and Johah Bixby, work Wednesday to rebuild a deteriorating wall around an open-air shower at Yaman Park beach in Cortland.

“We reached out for volunteer opportunities,” Marie Weiss, a council representative for the carpenter’s union, said about how her group got involved.

Christella Yonta, executive director of the United Way for Cortland County, said Wednesday was the 26th Day of Caring event for her organization.

She said 20 businesses and schools had collected food that would be donated to food pantries in the county.

Yonta estimated as many as 100 people would be involved in the activities Wednesday.

The projects:

  • Yaman Park in Cortland — Nearly 20 volunteers refurbished benches and outdoor showers at the city-owned park.
  • The Salvation Army in Cortland — Volunteers painted sheds in the morning at the south Main Street nonprofit, then tore out a wall for a winter warming center.
  • Smith School and St. Mary’s School in Cortland — Students sorted food they’ve collected for food pantries.
  • McGraw — Nearly 40 students spread across the village, sprucing up properties.