Some 1,200 volunteers cleaned up alleys and roadways in Shelby Park, Smoketown, Shawnee and California. Hundreds gathered at Meyzeek Middle School to build beds for JCPS school children who didn’t have one. More than 3,000 students walked for compassion through downtown Louisville as part of the international WE Day. And still others repaired bikes for refugees or landscaped area nonprofits.
Those and many other projects and deeds amounted to more than 180,000 volunteers and acts of compassion during Louisville’s sixth annual Give A Day week of service, which ended April 23.
The amount of helping and giving broke the city’s own world record of 175,000 volunteers and acts of compassion set last year in April. Mayor Greg Fischer said the creativity of compassion was impressive and inspiring.
“The beauty of this annual Week of Service is that it puts a spotlight on the compassion that we know happens in this community every single day, though we might not always see it,” Mayor Fischer said. “Every year, I learn about new things that people are doing throughout this community to help build each other up, and it’s amazing.”
The Mayor cited, for example, a small group of volunteers who gather every Sunday from spring into fall at Eastern Cemetery on Baxter Avenue, and armed with a few mowers, rakes and brooms, work to mow the grass and make once-forgotten, unseen monuments visible again.
“This little army is out there every week, and hardly anyone knows it’s happening,” said the Mayor, who stopped in to help and close out the 2017 Give A Day week on April 23. He and Dr. Barry Kerzin, one of the Dalai Lama’s two personal physicians – who was visiting for the Festival of Faiths – jumped in and mowed portions of the massive cemetery.
The numbers for Give A Day week included more than 51,000 JCPS students and teachers – often entire schools and classes – who, along with thousands more private and Catholic school students, were involved in projects ranging from writing letters to troops overseas to collecting and sorting food for the hungry to cleaning the neighborhoods around their schools.
And a record number of people – more than 17,000 – joined the Brightside & Passport Health Plan Spring Community Wide Cleanup, removing litter and debris from neighborhoods, parks and schools.
Louisville Metro Government teams also donated hours during the Week of Service. Louisville Metro Police, for example, sponsored projects in every division, and Louisville Fire helped with landscaping, beautification, cleanup and children’s activities at places like the Louisville Masonic Home and Baxter Park.
Mayor Fischer said the numbers probably exceeded 180,000, given how many acts of compassion occur that no one reports or are difficult to count, including contributions from local media and hours donated by companies, including Humana, GE, Ford, UPS, Computershare, Hogan Lovells and more.
The Mayor said he’s already hearing from citizens, organizations and companies making plans for the 2018 Give A Day event, which again will be connected with the annual Kentucky Derby Festival.
“We couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the Kentucky Derby Festival each year, than giving back to our community and its residents,” said Mike Berry, KDF President and CEO. “With countless volunteers who help make our celebration possible, we know first-hand the importance of volunteerism, and it makes Give A Day week a perfect fit.”
Mayor Fischer stressed that the success of Give A Day would not be possible without the support and coordination of Metro United Way, which matches volunteers with needy projects and organizations through the website, www.mygiveaday.com. “At Metro United Way, uniting people with the passion and expertise to get things done around our community’s most pressing needs is at the heart of what we do,” said Theresa Reno-Weber, Metro United Way president and CEO. “All year we mobilize thousands of individuals to fight for the education, financial stability and health of every person in our community, so we’re especially proud to serve as the volunteer engine for Mayor’s Give a Day week of service.
“Behind all of our work,” she added, “there are countless individuals, nonprofit partners and private companies who get involved in big and small ways to ensure a better future for all of us and a stronger community, and we are grateful for all who help us ensure every individual, child, and family achieves their fullest potential.”
2017 Give A Day week of service — Notable Numbers: