On a rainy October 24th,2015, wonderful things were happening outdoors, all around the Sault. Specifically, at homes where senior citizens live, and were participating in Trades Day of Caring. This annual event is a collaboration with Sault College Trades programmes, and The Sault & District United Way. A crew of 20 Sault College students enrolled in trades programming were raking, bagging, and carrying leaves from the yards of 22 different households where senior citizens reside. Sault College Teacher, Sam Spadafora, together with the United Way’s Maureen Dodd and Jeff Coccimiglio, were supporting and following the crews along as the damp day unfolded. The Sault & District United Way, a major supporter of Trades programmes at Sault College through ongoing bursaries, and student volunteers currently enrolled in The Trade Programmes at Sault College were out with verve starting at 8:00 am.
One thing that wasn’t damp, were the spirits and energy of the college student volunteers at the Speer residence, in north central Sault Ste. Marie. “These students are real troopers” shared Sam Spadafora. We’re almost finished now, with just a couple of houses to go.” This was at noon, and the weather could only be described as a terrential downpour.
Senior citizens in the community applied directly to The United Way by October 9th for support through The Annual Trades Day of Caring 2015. Maureen Dodd, United Way shared “We took in 22 applications this year, and 23 last year. These students are phenomenal. They’ve been working hard since early this morning.” As the rain poured down, students continued to rake their way through the front and back yard at The Speer house.
Erica Speer, the homeowners ‘boomerang’ daughter was so pleased and grateful for the raking that was taking place all around the yard. “I can’t believe how much work they are doing out here.” she said.
Erica’s parents are elderly, and she is learning to live with the reality of physical limitations associated with a back injury. “I broke my back a couple of years ago. The United Way were kind enough to keep my parents house on their list from last year. My dad and mom are struggling with dementia, and with my back problems, the work they are doing is a blessing and a God-send. My dad has always been a supporter of Sault College. I like the fact that the school is both academic and training” adding ” Hands’ on learning that gives students the extra view of what goes on in community. These young people pick up the bags (of leaves) and walk off with them like it’s no problem. For me, it would require the use of a dolly” said Erica. “They’ve done a lot in a very short time.”
Noah Russell and Paul Reti, Civil Engineering students at Sault College, were among the crew of 20 who were working hard in the rain.
“2 volunteers today are past graduates. said Sam Spadafora. “They wanted to come back this year to help.”
“All of the material, supplies and ‘tools of the trade’, were supplied by the generous support of National Supply, and The Sault P.U.C.” shared Jeff Coccimiglio. “The material and labour are free for our participants, so this goes a long way to supporting seniors in our community. I want to thank the sponsors for helping to make this possible.” he said.
The Trades Day of Caring represents a vision that marries helping seniors to stay in their home by alleviating some of the heavy fall yard work, along with minor home maintenance repairs, and college students enrolled in trades programmes demonstrating tangible ways to give back to the community. The United Way of Sault & District annually supports students enrolled in Trade Programmes at Sault College through ongoing bursaries in the amount of $1500 each. “United Way provides trade bursaries to students who apply and are accepted into one of 15 different trade programmes at Sault College.” said Maureen Dodd “This (Trades Day of Caring) is a natural fit because the United Way supports seniors staying in their homes through various programmes that we fund. We are working to increase capacity for seniors to stay in their homes as long as possible. This is a wonderful partnership with the Sault College trades programmes.”
Three cheers for all of the determined Sault College trade students volunteering for Trades Day of Caring, Instructor Sam Spadafora, and The Sault Ste Marie & District United Way’s Maureen Dodd (Resource Development Manager)and Jeff Coccimiglio (Project Coordinator).