The annual United Way Day of Caring in DeKalb County started Aug. 21 with two projects — the first of 24 to be completed over the next few weeks.

One group installed flooring at the Garrett-Keyser-Butler Head Start center. Another began building a cabin for Image of Hope Ranch on C.R. 31 south of Auburn.

“They’re all going to be outside projects” for health safety, said Tyler Cleverly, executive director of the United Way of DeKalb County, which sponsors the Day of Caring.

“We’re trying to do it the best we can with the situation this year. Typically, we have between 50 and 60 projects,” he said.

In a normal year without a pandemic, nearly all projects would be completed on the same day.

This year, Cleverly said, “We’re letting each volunteer group pick the day that fits them. W’re hoping to have them done by the end of September.”

The outdoor projects will include working for local parks departments, landscaping and porch projects in Butler. The list’s lone indoor project may be delayed until spring.

The new cabin under construction at Image of Hope will house its Pond Discovery Center.

“Families, schools, home school groups, will have access to our pond and anything they would need to study the ecosystem of a pond. We’ll have microscopes, aquariums with all the pond life,” said Alisha Shank, founder of the ranch.

“We have anywhere between 75 and 150 children, teens and adults that come here every week,” Shank said.

Equine one-on-one sessions to build confidence in young people take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Family Focus programs to build family unity are scheduled on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The Pond Discovery Center building will measure 20-by-28 feet, including a front deck.

“Our goal is to get it where we can measure for the metal roofing today, and then they’ll come back and do the metal roofing,” Shank said.

A crew building the pond center included 10 from Auburn city government, led by Mayor Mike Ley. Others were Brandy Coburn, executive assistant in the mayor’s office; Kimberley Almeida de Atarama, human resources director; Kathryn Sattison of the utility office; Susan Darnell and Chuck Taylor of the Water Department; Nate Crowl and City Engineer Daryl McConnell of the Engineering Department; Mat Snyder from the Department of Building, Planning and Development; and Board of Public Works and Safety member Herb Horrom.

They were joined by Michelle Stoll, Sara Ley, Ellen Campbell, David Johnston and Jim Ley, all from the mayor’s Signature Construction business; Tom DeCamp from Gramling Construction and Paul Reitman of the Indiana Army National Guard.

Aug. 19 marked United Way of Allen County’s 28th annual Day of Caring. In total, 684 people volunteered as part of 49 teams. United Way of Allen County had 12 internal volunteers who represented its board of directors and various committees. Volunteers completed a total of 45 projects for community members, area local nonprofits, schools, and government agencies.

After projects were completed, volunteers were welcomed to a celebration at Headwaters Park West where they could enjoy a free meal from one of three food trucks: Ziffles Zip N Go, One Love Food Truck and Baby Got S’Mac.

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