Just a few days ago, after heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding along Shoal Creek, the tables and benches at the pavilion in the Wildcat Glades area were under water.
On Friday, they were getting a thorough washing and scrubbing from volunteers with Liberty Utilities-Empire District as part of the annual Day of Action, a widespread volunteer effort coordinated on behalf of the United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas. More than 200 volunteers from local businesses and organizations spent the day giving back to their community by volunteering at United Way partner agencies.
Nearly 30 people from Liberty were spread across three sites, including the Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center, said Denise Overstreet, a communications specialist.
"It's a great experience for people in different departments in the company to come together and work together," she said. "For us personally, it's a benefit of our job to get to do this."
Jill McLaughlin, an administrative assistant at Liberty Utilities' facility in La Russell, said this was her first year to participate in the Day of Action. She joined her colleagues at Wildcat Glades.
"It's great and a very good atmosphere," she said. "Our company is big on helping the community. A busy life doesn't always allow it, so they offer us the opportunity to leave our job for a day to volunteer."
Robin Standridge, executive director of the Wildcat Glades Friends Group, said it's "amazing" when volunteers help with cleanup, repairs and maintenance of the park property and trails.
"Many hands make the work light," she said. "We welcome volunteers all the time, and we continue to grow. If it weren't for our volunteers, we would not exist."
Employees from BKD LLP, an accounting firm with a Joplin office, were working Friday morning at Lafayette House, which offers assistance to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and substance use disorders. They were painting a hallway in the nonprofit's main building to help complete a renovation project there.
"We're giving back to the community and making this a nice place for women who need help," said Lindsay Kubicek, a certified public accountant.
The Day of Action also serves another purpose, Kubicek said. She and her colleagues help raise funds each year for United Way, but volunteering in one of the partner agencies that receives a portion of those funds provided a tangible, visible look at where their donations go, she said.
Partner agencies where volunteers were working Friday also included the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri, Cerebral Palsy of Tri-County, Children's Haven, Crosslines, Joplin Association for the Blind, Joplin Family Y, Joplin NALA Read, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Crawford County, Family Resource Center, Pittsburg Community Child Care, Pittsburg Family Y, Pittsburg Parks & Recreation Department, Safehouse Crisis Center, Pittsburg Salvation Army and Wesley House.