(From left): United Way Blackhawk Region Day of Caring volunteers from Ecolab Nate Hedman, Mark Loberg, Eric Johnson and Trevor Krienke are shown lifting an old motorized go-kart from the Beloit Daily News at the Beloit Historical Society (BHS) on Wednesday morning. The volunteers were cleaning out the BHS garage and getting the historic go-kart nestled in a trailer to keep it safe.

BELOIT—“I live for this day.”

That’s what DEFY Domestic Abuse Beloit Shelter Coordinator Karmen Payne-Mancil said about getting a team of United Way Blackhawk Region Day of Caring volunteers on site.

Payne-Mancil said the extra set of hands was needed and appreciated, as she does maintenance for the shelter in addition to supervising 11 shelter advocates. Fortunately, she said community volunteers always step up to help DEFY, especially on the Day of Caring.

The team at DEFY was from First National Bank and Trust and the group was charged with spreading gravel underneath the shelter’s new playground equipment, cleaning up the outdoor area, adding a handrail, painting and making other minor repairs.

“They are getting right to it. I’d give them an A+,” Payne-Mancil said.

Payne-Mancil said the outdoor area is important for kids as it gives them a place to burn off their energy and it gives their family members a nice place to watch them in the outdoors. Payne-Mancil also noted First National had a second team assisting on the Day of Caring as well.

Volunteers descended upon Rock County in full force following the United Way Blackhawk Region annual capital campaign kickoff, which included a drive-through event Wednesday morning at ABC Supply’s corporate hangar at the Southwest Wisconsin Regional Airport.

Nearly 350 volunteers participated in Day of Caring, comprising 50 teams, assigned to 61 community service projects at 36 nonprofit agencies or community organizations.

One mighty group from Ecolab of Roscoe was helping out on a variety of tasks at the Beloit Historical Society (BHS).

BHS Executive Director Donna Langford said the team was cleaning up overgrowth along the fence line as well as tackling garage and storage facility cleanup and organization. In addition to sweeping up the space, materials were being discarded such as scrap lumber.

Other historical items such as a Beloit Daily News go kart were being assessed for placement in a secure location. The go kart was being put in a trailer to ensure it wouldn’t get bumped.

“It’s nice to give back to the community,” said Mark Loberg of Ecolab.

Volunteers from Ecolab participate in the Day of Caring each year. The volunteers said it’s a coveted role, joking there was a raffle and some arm wrestling involved to be selected for the big day.

Trevor Krienke said he serves on Ecolab’s community relations team which decides how to assist different non profits in the area. He said it’s always fun to get out to the different organizations on the Day of Caring to see them in action.

“This is a banner day for us,” Langford said.

BHS was hosting its first big tour—a Wednesday Walks event—as it hosted its first big volunteer group with the Day of Caring volunteers outside. It marked the first of both events for BHS since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Langford said everyone was adhering to social distance and the volunteer duties were purposefully chosen to be outside for safety reasons.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Day of Caring safety measures included prioritizing outdoor projects, recommending PPE and social distancing for indoor projects, requiring sign-in sheets for any potential contact tracing, and careful scrutiny of projects that may affect vulnerable populations, according to information provided by the United Way Blackhawk Region.

Other groups that received volunteers on site included: Boys & Girls Club of Janesville, City of Janesville and United Way, Community Action Inc. in Beloit, Edgerton Community Outreach, Friends of the Welty Environmental Center in Beloit, KANDU Industries in Janesville, Milton Public Library and Stateline Boys & Girls Club in South Beloit.