Sonoma County held its annual Day of Caring on September 9. Ours is always the second Wednesday in September. It provided a nice lead-in to the national Day of Service held the following Friday, September 11.
This year the county combined its yearly service day with the kick-off for the Combined Fund Drive, making it, I suppose, the Day of Caring and Sharing. About eleven hundred employees from the county, the city, and various other employers like Redwood Credit Union, were given the day off with pay to help out the community. Some pruned blackberries at local and regional parks. Some people painted shelters or the homes of disabled or elderly people who couldn’t do it themselves. In some of those homes, they did yard work or made dump runs. A group also worked to clean up the historical Sonoma County Cemetery on Chanate Road.
This is a great event. I didn’t participate this year, but I have other years. In fact, one year that I worked the date really was September 11. I remember the sense of healing I had, coming together as a community, what a fine antidote to the fear and isolation of that other September 11 the day provided.
In previous years, the kick-off was held at Findley Center. When people returned in the afternoon, there were lots of goodies and swag; notepads, pens, tote bags, sunscreen, water bottles, gift coupons and so on. The economy is bad this year, so the county scaled back. The kick-off was held at the corner of the county complex. Workers got a water bottle and a T shirt at the end of the day. There were hot dogs and chips provided. The atmosphere was still festive with music from a local radio station, and a raffle.
People don’t do Day of Caring because they might get cool stuff. They do it because, well, they care, and the Day provides tangible ways to show that. I am proud of my county. I’m proud of the county departments who organize the event and the tasks, I’m proud of the employers who participate and let staff attend, I’m proud of the workers who stay behind and pick up the slack, and I’ve very proud of those folks who pull on work gloves and pick up the pruning shears and cut back blackberries in a shut-in’s yard (or a local park), often in ninety-degree weather. Every year this day reminds me of what we can accomplish when we work as a community.