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Volunteers lend helping hand during annual day of caring

Beth Shelstad, left, explains to (from left to right) Kris Haycraft, Rhonda Van Norman and Andrea Nordick what needs to be done in her West Fargo home. Carrie Snyder / Forum Communications Co.1 / 3
Joy Opsal sets out treats for the Youthworks volunteers who helped clean her West Fargo home. Carrie Snyder / Forum Communications Co.2 / 3
Lisa Sonneman cleans the windows at Joy Opsal's West Fargo apartment on Thursday, Oct. 13. Carrie Snyder / Forum Communications Co.3 / 3

Youthworks views their involvement in the 20th Annual United Way of Cass-Clay Day of Caring as a way of being active in the community and making life easier for those needing assistance.

Toward that end, their staff - Andrea Nordick, Rhonda Van Norman, Kris Haycraft and Lisa Sonnaman - was out in full force Thursday, Oct. 13, helping clean the homes of two West Fargo Heritage Square residents, Joy Opsal and Elizabeth Shelstad, as part of the annual United Way Day of Caring campaign.

Youthworks, one of 41 agencies funded by United Way, is a non-profit agency working with at risk, runaway and homeless youth and young adults.

Manager Andrea Nordick, who also served as team captain for the day of caring effort, said Youthworks has a special compassion for volunteers since they are utilized on a regular basis at their location.

That's why staff is so enthused about wanting to give back, serving as volunteers helping out for day of caring. "In the summer, we have businesses who come and help out at Youthworks," Nordick noted. "This time of the year is our chance to get out and volunteer. We work with youth all year long so working with the seniors is a nice change of pace and really pretty cool and a lot of fun."

This was their first year cleaning both Opsal's and Shelstad's homes, taking their time to polish cupboards and cupboard tops, do some strategic dusting, washing windows and vacuuming, among other household chores.

"We're always good at working together," Nordick said, "and this also gives us an opportunity to chat."

Opsal said this was the first time anybody had ever cleaned her house as part of day of caring. A friend in the building had told her about the annual day and she decided to call and participate.

"I can't do some of this work myself any longer, and my grandchildren all work so I didn't want to ask them."

Opsal marveled at the speed at which the workers proceeded. "They are really moving and it looks like they are doing really well. They are pretty good kids."

Opsal, 85, moved from Williston to her present West Fargo home, describing it as a perfect fit. "I have my clinic, doctor, church and beauty shop right in the area, so I can't complain."

Opsal was extremely appreciative of the Youthworks volunteer's effort, treating them with cookies and cake upon completion of their tasks.

Shelstad was equally as grateful for their volunteer presence.

She had been involved with day of caring the past two years as a Fargo resident, moving to West Fargo in January of this year. When day of caring rolled around this year she not only signed up, but encouraged other residents of Heritage Square to do the same. They followed suit and the end result were several volunteer groups on site to assist a number of tenants.

Shelstad said the Youthworks staff did a great job of cleaning her windows and hanging several plaques that she wanted displayed.

"It was a lot of things I couldn't do for myself," Shelstad noted. "We really had a good time and a lot of fun doing it. I was very thankful for and pleased with what they did. There is no doubt this is a very good program for seniors."

She also offered treats and is looking ahead to next year, when she will be involved with day of caring if the opportunity presents itself.

Overall, this year's 20th annual event was labeled a huge success by organizers.

More than 1,200 volunteers participated with more than 470 senior citizens opening their homes to volunteers the afternoon of Oct. 13. Approximately 90 businesses and organizations organized the volunteers and teams for the purpose of helping seniors with their projects they were unable to complete on their own as well as enjoy companionship for the afternoon.