Managers at Whirlpool decided to take a step outside the daily grind to lend a helping hand to local nonprofit The Caring Place on a weekly basis.
Volunteer Coordinator Sandra Woodard explained three Whirlpool employees report every Thursday to help out from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
“We are not shy about showing them around,” she said. “Some of them came on the original Hope Tour with [Director of Organization Advancement] Toni Miles and some of them did not. We usually give them a tour of the whole facility so they understand what it is we do.”
Approximately 12 to 15 managerial-level employees signed up to volunteer. A rotating schedule determines who shows up at the local nonprofit each week. Almost everyone is able to go once every four-week period. Sometimes the managers swap volunteer dates to better coordinate with their work schedules.
Assembly line Manager Harold Black said the volunteer effort allows people to see Whirlpool really cares about the community.
“I think it is a great charity,” he said. “It was a very humbling experience for me to meet the folks who are in need, and being able to help them a little bit.”
He said it was also touching to see the level of dedication exhibited by the regular volunteers.
Black and assembly line supervisor Tim Shelton said they did not know much about The Caring Place prior to their volunteer involvement. Woodard said many people in the community do
not know all of the programs offered through the nonprofit. She said she was one of those who primarily thought TCP operated a food and clothing service.
Added Woodard, “I really didn’t know the depth of the things they do for the community.”
Limited space and a plethora of programs has The Caring Place operating out of four buildings. The base of operations on the main campus houses the registration station, administrative employee offices, clothing rooms, clothing intake room and an assortment of home goods. The program DiaperLove is also offered in the back section of the building.
The second building on the main campus off Wildwood Avenue is the food warehouse. Clients show slips of paper handed out post-registration at the front counter. Families, individuals and the homeless can then receive a box of food one to two times a month. Shelton and Black found themselves in the warehouse during a recent volunteer visit.
The two men worked to unload food from boxes and place the items on shelves throughout the warehouse.
“The Caring Place has got a little different approach on how to help with [the need in Cleveland],” Black said. “I think that is one of the good things about The Caring Place — the way they approach helping people.”
Neighbors in Need, a utility and rent assistance program, operates out of the Blythe Family Support Center located in the old Blythe Elementary School. Caseworkers meet with potential clients to determine the need and write up a financial plan. Clients must meet the requirements set forth by the caseworkers to receive aid and gain long-term stability.
The local nonprofit also operates Karis Dental Clinic alongside several other local agencies and the Sac Pac program. The latter provides food for economically disadvantaged children over the weekend. It is operated out of Cleveland State Community College. The dental clinics are set up inside of the Bradley County Health Department.
Woodard said Whirlpool’s involvement is a win-win situation.
“I just know that they have all stated to different [TCP employees] they have really, really enjoyed coming,” she said. “They enjoy spending time with the seasoned volunteers and the clients.”
Area Leader Bruce Hopkinson said everyone who heard the presentation by The Caring Place felt it was a good idea to volunteer with the nonprofit. He said the volunteer effort fits into Whirlpool’s effort to be a continuous improving organization.
“There are three things we are focusing on,” he said. “One is of course being a good manufacturer. One is being efficient. One is also to be a good partner in the community and generate a sense of family at work and being part of the community.”
Stone encouraged companies across Cleveland to make a similar volunteer decision.
“I would just like to maybe challenge some of the other companies in Cleveland to get involved with either The Caring Place or one of the other organizations in town,” he said. “Whirlpool has allowed us to do this while we are supposed to be at work. We are not taking any of our personal time to do it.”
Woodard said any company interested in helping out can contact her via email, Sandra@thecaringplaceonline.org, or phone, 472-4414.