1,500 volunteers answer call to care; United Way helps out 34 agencies.


Byline: Anna L. Griffin

An army of 1,500 volunteers turned out in force yesterday for the United Way of North Central Massachusetts' 13th annual Day of Caring.

"This is by far the most successful Day of Caring event we have ever held," said Richard Palmer, chairman of the Day of Caring Committee and executive director of the Montachusett Area YMCA.

The volunteers started their day off with a breakfast event at the Four Points by Sheraton in Leominster. Following that, they traveled to 34 nonprofit agencies to fix, repair and spruce up the facilities during the daylong event,

The event, which included the official kickoff of this year's United Way campaign, was dedicated to the memory of Bruce Lawrence, who died two weeks ago, and had served on the Day of Caring steering committee for 13 years.

Mr. Lawrence's husband, Ira W. Leighton III, attended the breakfast. "I was very touched by this tribute. He would have been here today," Mr. Leighton said. "I am not a morning person and I am sure he's laughing his head off to think that my alarm clock went off at 7 a.m. this morning so that I could be here today."

"He would have been here today," said Steven L. Stone, chairman of the United Way of North Central Massachusetts. Mr. Stone is also executive vice president of Sterlite Corp. "Bruce was always here at these and many other events. He recognized the importance of volunteering."

According Mr. Palmer, the day is important to local agencies and the clients they serve. "These projects would not get done if it wasn't for the wonderful support of the community," he said.

Patrick Muldoon, vice chairman of the United Way campaign and president and chief executive officer of HealthAlliance, was among those heading out to volunteer at a local site.

"I'm going to be at the Boys & Girls Club facility," he said, referring to the new club on Lindell Avenue in Leominster. "It's great to have the opportunity to actually work on something that you can see the results right away. I think that's one of the reasons why so many are drawn to participating in this day; at the end of it, you can see the work that has been done."

Before the volunteers headed out to their projects, four people...

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