Builders association volunteers work to help clean, repair Janesville YWCA
The sound of little running feet is much more common in the childcare room than the thump of work boots.
But the unusual sights and sounds were very welcome Saturday as 20 volunteers from the South Central Wisconsin Builders Association worked to repair and clean the YWCA facility at 1735 S. Washington St., Janesville.
The volunteers were electricians, carpenters, plumbers and painters. They fixed cabinets, plaster and light fixtures. They were men, women and children.
Many were local business owners.
“This is a phenomenal gesture of generosity,” said Allison Hokinson, the interim executive director at the YWCA. Paying for the large amount of volunteer expertise present Saturday morning would have put a big dent in the programming budget, she said.
In the portion of the building designed as a shelter for women and children, the kitchen was especially starting to show its age. Countertops were chipped, the housing for an oven fan sagged and the ceiling tiles were dingy.
Soon, SCWBA volunteers will remodel it using commercial standards. This spring, association members will do maintenance work on the outside of the building, said Chad Barnes, a member of the SCWBA Board of Directors and one of the organizers of the day.
The idea for the work day came when Barnes was asked recently to help with the Ruby Violet program. That program, also designed by local business owners, is working to turn a recreational vehicle into a traveling salon to deliver haircuts and day spa services to battered women living in shelters. As Barnes worked with YWCA employees, he started to learn about the maintenance needs, he said.
YWCA Development Director Jeff Bealles has worked closely with Barnes to organize the volunteer day. He was hesitant at first to list all the maintenance work the building needed. But Barnes and others quickly pointed out projects that could be easily handled by experts.
“What I’m saying is they went above and beyond,” Bealles said.
Barnes’ first experience with the YWCA was on the day he walked in seeking advice. At the time, he suspected an acquaintance was living in a violent situation and wanted to know what to do about it.
“It happens right under our noses,” Barnes said about domestic violence.
He got the advice he needed and, despite some obstacles and objections from other people, Barnes helped the woman in need.
At the time, he was struck by how hard it is for women in dangerous situations to connect with help.
“Even with all the resources available, I saw how difficult it was for these women to put their foot down and make the change,” Barnes said.
Barnes was pleasantly surprised by the volunteer turnout for the project. He suspected each of the volunteers had a story and a personal reason for donating time to the YWCA.
“I don’t know why,” Barnes said. “It doesn’t matter.”
ON THE WEB
Members of the South Central Wisconsin Builders Association on Saturday volunteered to do maintenance and cleaning at the YWCA of Rock County, 1735 S. Washington St., Janesville. The group plans to renovate the kitchen in the YWCA’s women’s shelter and, in the spring, do outdoor maintenance work on the building. To learn more about the builders association, visit scwbaonline.com.
The YWCA of Rock County provides programming and outreach for victims of domestic violence, victims of sexual abuse and immigrants. It also runs a child-care program and provides before- and after-school care for elementary school-aged children. The YWCA welcomes volunteers. To learn more, visit ywca.org/rockcounty or call (608) 752-5445