Using a stencil, a floral decal and some purple paint, Julie Navarre carefully put the finishing touches on a wooden picture frame for a family in need.
“I hope that it goes in a place of prominence in their home,” Julie said. “I hope they can look at it and feel inspired.”
The frame, with the word “family” painted in script below a heart-shaped cutout, is just one of the items inside United Way’s Welcome Home kits created for families in United Way supported programs who are moving into new homes or sprucing up spaces of their own.
“I think it gives them a starting place,” Julie said. “I hope it gives them a sense of comfort.”
Julie and more than 100 volunteers assembled the kits during United Way’s Day of Action, an annual event to encourage volunteerism and giving back.
“I’ve been involved in some smaller volunteer events,” Julie said. “But the fact that we’re including the whole family in this project and giving them all a leg up at the same time is really rewarding.”
The kits include household items like cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, a first aid kit, hygiene products and linens.
“They don’t have to worry about little things like bath towels,” Julie said. “Instead, they can concentrate on the important stuff.”
United Way organizers created the event this year alongside some of the families receiving the kits. Organizers worked directly with the families to make sure the items would be useful.
Moms like Jocquelene Pressley, who received one of the kits and attended the event with her children, said she’ll put the items to good use.
“This might sound cheesy, but I’m most excited about the dust pan,” she said. “No more cardboard boxes to sweep the dust into.”
Jocquelene shared her story with volunteers while they were making the kits and helped assemble some of the kits for other families like hers.
“Seeing everybody here is just overwhelming,” she said. “I’ve never seen the community come together like this.”
Each kit is also personalized with handwritten notes of encouragement from the volunteers.
“I hope the families understand that people really care about you, because a lot of times you feel like nobody cares,” Jocquelene said. “When you’re just starting out, it’s good to know somebody is looking out for you, that you have a support system.”
More than 300 families will receive the kits from United Way.