Community Service Day 2016

By Aida Byrne, vice president of community development, VNA Homecare

Blood. Sweat. Volun-Tears.

It was nothing shy of that on Wednesday, July 13 as the Leadership Class of 2016 (the best class EVER) took to the streets listening to the down-home radio show created just for them by the design team that set the tone for the day ahead. Our group volunteered their time from sun-up to sun-down making Central New York that much better of a place to live and work.

Starting at Arise on the Farm in Chittenango, the day was kicked-off with a filling breakfast donated by VNA Homecare and then came the opening act…an opportunity to spruce up this amazing horse farm utilized by individuals with developmental disabilities across several counties in New York. From cleaning down fences to painting barns, the group worked as a whole – 45 of us were there to lend a hand – and completed a job that was not only rewarding, but also much needed.

Despite high heat and sweltering conditions, laughter, camaraderie and, above all else, the sounds of team work could be heard coming from this beautiful location. There was no doubt that the “sweat” portion of the day could be checked off the list as several class members literally rung out their t-shirts as they headed to their next locations.

Groups divided up, took a road trip and were able to spend time in smaller groups getting to work on projects located at the Ronald McDonald House, Samaritan Center, Food Bank, Gigi’s Playhouse, Parks Department, and Refugee Center/Public Housing. There were jobs that included packaging, literally, thousands of pounds of meat, power washing tomb stones, and reading to children who had come to our area from across the globe. It was an afternoon filled with more emotional work, which taught everyone that much more about the need for volunteers in our community in order for organizations to survive and exist.

All the groups landed at a home-base location (shout out to O’Brien & Gere for the space and great snacks) to end the day and finish up their “tears.”

Paige’s Butterfly Run founder Chris Arnold told the amazing and moving story of his beautiful daughter who had passed away due to complications from a bone marrow transfusion that was needed to treat her cancer at the age of 8. (I’m thinking the LGS Class of 2016 will be creating a team for the June 2017 race).

Last, but not least, the group was asked to take on just one more volunteer cause and round out the last category of the theme of the day … “blood.”  The American Red Cross is holding an LGS 2016 Blood Drive in August and the class was asked to pull up a sleeve, sit back for a few minutes and give their best veins up for a blood donation that is seriously needed throughout Central New York (remember you can always donate to the American Red Cross, just check out their website for available times and locations).

When the day was over, there wasn’t a dry eye.. or t-shirt (thank you A-P Master Images for donating these)…in the room. The emotion of learning why others help others, actively volunteering for so many that are in dire need of help, and joining forces with a group of strong, smart, kind, and giving professionals (this is you LGSers) in this community made for a full and rewarding day.

There is no doubt that the goal of this design team to inspire their classmates to “Pay It Forward” was reached, as many walked away talking about how they would continue in giving their blood, sweat and tears.

Special thanks to Carrier Corporation for serving as our overall class day sponsor. THANK YOU!!