Day of Caring provides help and hope

By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Sep 06, 2013
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Best friends Wanda Walker, left, and Ruth Wyche wait together while the Haywood County Rescue Squad builds a new porch. Wyche, who is blind, received a new porch with ramp and stairs during the 2013 United Way Day of Caring.

Ruth Wyche thought she would never be able to use her side porch again.

Rotting wood and lack of support had kept the 62-year-old visually impaired Canton resident from walking on her porch for many years.

At end of the day Thursday, however, Wyche was a proud owner of a new porch, complete with a new ramp and stairs.

As part of the 2013 United Way Day of Caring, the Haywood County Rescue Squad was assigned to Wyche’s home on Reynolds School Road where they spent the day measuring, cutting and building.

“It’s a miracle,” Wyche said. “I haven’t been able to go out there at all because I would fall, but it means a lot to have the help — especially when you can’t see. It’s a blessing to have the Day of Caring.”

The annual event brings together volunteers from clubs, businesses, churches and organizations to spend one day taking care of people in need of a helping hand in Haywood County, whether it’s painting a house or building a wheelchair ramp.

In addition to her porch, Wyche will be able to use the new ramp to drag her trash to the road and can use the stairs to get to her basement, where she can access her freezer and washer and dryer.

Cara Rogers, a member of the Haywood County Rescue Squad, said it felt good to be helping Wyche.

"The porch that was here before was severely rotten — it was a real safety issue," Rogers said. "Now she has a ramp that goes to the road and she can go up and down the stairs into the basement."

Wanda Walker, Wyche’s best friend and neighbor who checks on her daily, said the porch was now one less thing for her to worry about.

“One of my concerns was that she would step out there and the wood would be falling in because she likes to be independent,” Walker said. “There is always someone who comes and checks on her, but this is wonderful. I appreciate it just as much as if it were my own porch.”

Wyche’s porch is just one example out of dozens of projects that took place during United Way’s Day of Caring.

Celesa Willet, executive director of the United Way of Haywood County, said 38 projects took place throughout the county on Thursday.

“For the clients who receive help, it’s just such an amazing blessing to have work done for them free of charge,” Willet said. “And for the volunteers, they get a day off working normal jobs and can get out in the community and see what the true needs are.”

In Clyde, a new home was in the works at Barefoot Ridge. As part of the Day of Caring, the Home Builders Association volunteered to work on a house for Haywood County’s Habitat for Humanity program.

Joey Massie, construction supervisor for Habitat, said the home being built was for a mother and her daughter. He said he hoped to see the house completed by November.

“With the Home Builders Association, everything here is like construction work on steroids,” Massie said. “For me this is about providing an excellent home for people with lower incomes that wouldn’t allow for a conventional loan.”

Diana MacCargar, associate vice president with the Home Builders Association, said 10 general contractors were working on the house for Day of Caring.

“Basically everyone here runs a small business, and everyone is taking a day off to work and show what the Home Builders Association is all about,” he said.

Meanwhile in Waynesville, members of the Waynesville Police Department and Waynesville Fire Department were hard at work repairing a roof on Daisy Avenue.

A total of 17 safety officers shared the responsibility of repairing a roof, replacing the gutters and pouring concrete for a new sidewalk area.

“The porch roof was sagging and had damage to it and needed to be re-roofed, and the sidewalk was sloping dramatically and the people were having trouble getting in and out,” said Jason Rogers, the codes administrator for the police department. “We do these projects every year. These guys all have a talent outside of their job they can contribute.”

Day of Caring in Haywood County began in 1997 with 15 projects and 75 volunteers and has since expanded. This year, the Day of Caring included 38 countywide projects and worked with about 380 volunteers.

"It's all to help those people who are less fortunate," Rogers said.

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