by Jeanné M. Tatro

Columbia Tech's United Way Volunteers (Left to Right James Neil, Mike Duffy, Jeanné Tatro and Sarah Fisher)

Columbia Tech’s United Way Volunteers (Left to Right James Neil, Mike Duffy, Jeanné Tatro and Sarah Fisher)

Every year, four employees from Coghlin Companies, Inc. are chosen to participate in the United Way’s Day of Caring. This year marks Coghlin Companies seventh year and Mike Duffy, James Neil, Sarah Fisher and Jeanné Tatro were chosen to participate in the United Way’s 21st Day of Caring 2014 which was held on Wednesday, September 10th in Worcester, Massachusetts. Mike, James, Sarah and Jeanné were among the 1,200 people wearing LIVE UNITED T-Shirts and making a difference in this one day community wide service event to benefit local non-profit organizations. In addition to participating in the Day of Caring event, each year Coghlin Companies and their employees support the United Way through an annual drives to help raise money for this organization.

The group of four representing Coghlin Companies, teamed up and spent the day together volunteering in Central Massachusetts by working with The Community Builders, Inc. at Plumley Village in Worcester, painting their youth center. Other community service volunteer projects and opportunities for the Day of Caring consisted of restoration and repair, preservation and beautification, gardening or neighborhood cleanup, recreation and social events with community interaction.

Among the 1,200 people wearing LIVE UNITED T-Shirts and making a difference during a luncheon hosted at St. Vincent's Hospital, Worcester, MA

Among the 1,200 people wearing LIVE UNITED T-Shirts and making a difference during a luncheon hosted at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Worcester, MA

Anne Vinick MSW, LICSW and the Community Life Senior Manager at the Youth Development Center told us “The United Way of Central MA Day of Caring is a very direct way for volunteers to make a difference in the communities where they live and/or work.  The painting project for which Columbia Tech was involved this year was a tremendous success.  At The Community Builders, Inc. we have seen time and time again that youth will respect people and property when proper respect is given to them.  Painting our youth center means so much more than just painting; it translates to mean that the community cares about the people who use the space by putting the thought, time, energy and money (for supplies) into the project.  The youth were so excited to see their spaces looking so much brighter!”

James Neil and Sarah Fisher painting one of many doors and walls

James Neil and Sarah Fisher painting one of many doors and walls

Anne also mentioned that they are always looking for committee volunteers. Opportunities include homework assistance for youth anywhere from kindergarten through 12th grade, working with the new ChromeBooks that were donated to the Youth Center, teaching youth new programs, and mentoring a youth at individual weekly meet-ups.  “If you have a special talent that youth may have interest, please let us know! Lastly, each year we hold a holiday party for youth and their parents.  We serve dinner, do arts and crafts and have entertainment.  We always need volunteers to help us make the party a success! If anyone is interested in volunteering at Plumley Village, they can call Jennifer Pitts, Youth Program Manager at (508) 770-0508.” The youth center benefits greatly from the generosity of the community and its supporters find many ways to help us in the important work that we do.

Mike Duffy painting the trim with supplies that he donated

Mike Duffy painting the trim with supplies that he donated

The Community Builders, Inc. is one of the largest and most accomplished non-profit development corporations in the United States, managing almost 9,000 units at over 100 properties in 14 states. Their mission is to build and sustain strong communities where people of all incomes can achieve their full potential. They plan, finance, develop and operate high-quality affordable housing, transform distressed housing projects for revitalization efforts, serve as stakeholders in the neighborhoods that they helped transform and have helped place over 2,000 residents in jobs.

The volunteers from Coghlin Companies were inspired by “Day of Caring” working with United Way, Community Builders and Plumley Village and quotes from each can be seen below:


work of heart 5Mike Duffy (Manufacturing Engineer Manager) – “Volunteering for the United Way was a rewarding and fun experience for me. I had the privilege of contributing my skills to a great cause while working with a great bunch of people. It felt great to be part of something that helped a community and best of all; it was a place for kids to help them with their life struggles. It was fantastic to be reminded of places like Plumley’s youth center, where kids can go and have fun – but can still be taught the skills to help them survive in today’s challenging world.”

“The project director Anne was a pleasure to work with – she had a clear and well thought out plan on what needed to be done. She gave precise direction as to the current project status and what we needed to do to complete it. Everything that we needed was there and ready to go. We were able to focus on the task at hand and maximize our project efforts. Anne also had a great personality and positive energy. She was very friendly and easy to work with!”

“I have participated in other volunteer programs in the past, for my local church as well as walking for the March of Dimes. The United Way effort ranks as my favorite (since I love to paint!)”

work of heart 6Sarah Fisher (Sales and Marketing Communications Associate) – “I was thankful to have the opportunity to represent Coghlin Companies at Day of Caring, and was touched by the gratitude we were shown by the staff of Plumley Village. When we were painting the youth center, a few kids came in and it was clear that the youth center was a safe place for them to be with their friends, do their homework, and seek guidance. Seeing the kids truly reinforced the direct impact we were making and I was glad I could help. It’s a great feeling to work for a company that is so invested in their community!”

work of heart 7James Neil (Manufacturing Engineer) – “I love to volunteer.  It made my day to be able to donate my time to the folks at Plumley Village. I have had the opportunity to volunteer at soup kitchens, the Starlight Foundation, rehab centers and Big Brothers Big Sisters in Lowell.  It is always most rewarding to work on the behalf of youth either directly or indirectly so being able to help improve the environment at the youth center was right up my alley.”

“It especially makes me proud to work for a company who shares the value and feeling of duty to those less fortunate and to the community. I look forward to representing the Coghlin Companies again in the future.”

work of heart 8Jeanné Tatro (Business Systems Developer) – “I feel blessed to work for a company who cares about the community and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to get involved in an organization that impacts a whole community, as well. I have done volunteering in the past, but I have never seen a turnout like United Way’s Day of Caring. It was so inspiring to see so many organizations and all the people wearing LIVE UNITED T-Shirts and all come together for two common causes, community and making a difference. One organization can impact a whole community? That’s a really powerful thing.”

United Way began in 1887 and was started by only five people who recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems. More than 125 years later, United Way is still focused on the caring power of communities and making a difference in people’s lives. Today, United Way celebrates its 125th anniversary and enters into partnerships with CNN and CNN International to share the LIVE UNITED message in communities all around the world. United Way is more than a “fundraiser”; they are a community impact organization.

There are many benefits of volunteering and there is plenty of research that shows that there is a significant relationship between volunteering and good health, in addition to the social benefits brought about by volunteering. UnitedHealth Group and the Optum Institute released a study “Doing Good is Good for You: 2013 Health and Volunteering Study which revealed that adults who volunteer feel better physically and emotionally. Employers also benefit in terms of better employee health and professional-skills development that employees use in the workplace.

For more information about the United Way Day of Caring, visit:

Photos courtesy of Jeanné M. Tatro