ASHLAND — Gordon Conrad’s wife, Kay Conrad, passed away in 2010. But she is still remembered today after founding the United Way of Ashland’s Kay Conrad Day of Caring 25 years ago.
Kay Conrad was the executive director of the organization from 1996 to 2004.
On Thursday, roughly 320 volunteers set out to provide service to 98 homes in Ashland County that added up to over 1,200 man hours in just an afternoon’s worth of work.
“I just think it highlights the specialness of our community, people’s work ethic and their ability to care for others and just to make a difference in this one day,” Stacy Schiemann, executive director of United Way said.
The volunteers consisted of companies that rounded up their employees as well as individuals willing to spend an afternoon giving back to the community.
The volunteers are split up into groups by companies — who each have 4-5 assigned houses where they will go and meet the needs of the homeowners, typically elderly.
Companies such as First Energy have sent volunteers to the event for years and this year had 23 employees take the afternoon to volunteer as a team.
“We’ve gotten quite a few more new ones (volunteers) this year, so I think the word is spreading within our company, and we’re getting a few more willing to take the time to come out and help,” Julie Campbell of First Energy said.
Typical duties consist of raking, hedging bushes, cleaning windows and even replacing smoke detectors provided by the American Red Cross.
“What makes it successful is the interaction with the residents because most of the residents don’t stay in their houses when this is done,” Schiemann said. “They are out there talking to their volunteer team and sharing stories and having that social connection and feeling cared for by their community.”
Ashland Mayor Matt Miller gave a proclamation for the day and also mentioned the type of person Kay Conrad was and what she meant to the community.
“Kay was someone whose heart and soul was for the underdog,” Miller said. “Anyone that needed help, whether it was emotional, physical, or help cleaning up their property, Kay cared about them.”
As the volunteers waited anxiously to go out and serve, Gordon Conrad left them with one message.
“It was very important to Kay and I don’t think she ever envisioned something like this being this big. I know it’s pretty chilly out there, but the warmth in your hearts is going to overcome that.”
Ashland Source Facebook Article: 10/18/2019