Amarillo volunteers give back during Day of Caring


The doors were closed, kind of, at the Guyon Saunders Resource Center on Friday.

Instead of the city’s homeless doing their laundry or taking showers or checking their mail at the facility at 200 S. Tyler St., workers from the City of Amarillo and the Amarillo Fire Department were painting walls. Out with the “downer” gray and in with the bright white in the lobby and day rooms and festive sea glass in the activity room.

“It’s really important; it really freshens up the building,” said GSRC Dayroom Advocate Kevin Oliphant. “It means a lot to have all this work done.”

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to give back to the community,” said AFD District Chief Brandon Mason while holding a paint brush.

The United Way of Amarillo & Canyon held its annual event, the Day of Caring, on Friday. Volunteers from businesses and schools throughout the area fan out across the two cities and region to help nonprofits get to some of those chores that don’t seem to get done.

“After all they do for the people less fortunate, this is a day we get to take care of them,” said Mark Mechenbier of Xcel Energy. “I’m so grateful for the people of Amarillo. I’m very proud of those who come out to help … to those people who help out those individuals who have fallen down or are on hard times and they extend a helping hand to help bring those people back up.”

Mechenbier, who is an operational support manager, was working with co-worker Scott Brake repairing playground equipment at the Salvation Army, 2101 S. Van Buren St.

“There’s no greater joy than to help your fellow man,” said Brake, an environmentalist who has worked at Xcel almost 13 years.

“Hopefully, the kids (using the playground) can come out and enjoy the outdoors,” said Mechenbier, who has worked at Xcel for 36 years.

Last year, the two said they painted an entire apartment at the Downtown Women’s Center at the Day of Caring event.

During the morning’s kickoff breakfast, Katie Noffsker talked about three types of problems. She described a simple problem as one similar to baking a cake. A complicated problem is like that faced by the country when it wanted to put a person on the moon.

“You follow the formula, and, although the task is complicated and difficult, you can put someone on the moon,” said Noffsker, the executive director of United Way of Amarillo & Canyon.

The third type of problem is complex, like raising a child or battling to find solutions that nonprofits deal with everyday.

“There’s no formula to follow,” she said. “That’s a little of the work that our partners do. There is no solution or recipe for the work that they do. One thing that makes our work effective is people like you, coming together … for somebody who has experienced the unimaginable hurdles to try to find some peace.”

That work United Way’s partners did Friday were significant.

Firefighters from AFD and the Amarillo Fire Marshal’s Office helped build shadow boxes and display walls at the Amarillo Art Institute, 3701 Plains Blvd.

Students from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School volunteered with the Amarillo Zoo to help clean up the lake in Thompson Park.

Workers from Bell installed planters and moved tables at Buckner Family Pathways, 1615 S. Tyler St.

Amarillo National Bank employees mowed grass and cleaned yards for the Buckner Foster Care Program.

Employees from the City of Canyon repaired pot holes in the parking lot at the Canyon Senior Citizens Center, 1719 Fifth Ave.

Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle held a food drive at the United Supermarkets at 45th and Bell Street.

Staffers from KAMR and Fox 14 television stations painted apartments and repaired shelves and stairs at the Downtown Women’s Center’s Gratitude House at 1101 S. Jackson St.

Amarillo College employees painted and repaired the lunch room at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Amarillo, 1923 S. Lincoln St.

Martha’s Home received some needed help setting up for the Second Chance Prom event, which is being held tonight at the Amarillo Netplex at 4101 S. Hillside Road.

City of Amarillo staffers volunteered at Bones Hooks Park and Hines Memorial Park laying mulch, painting playground equipment and putting informational stickers on dumpsters in the North Heights neighborhood.

Opportunity School, a year-round school, got some help from workers from First Bank Southwest. They painted and repaired playground equipment at the school, which is located at 1525 N. Grand St.

Students from West Texas A&M University and employees from the City of Canyon braved the cold and headed to Palo Duro Canyon State Park to clean and spruce up the park’s visitor center and overlook.

Bank of America and Street Auto Group volunteers pitched in to help Sharing Hope Ministry’s Seventh Street Garden of Hope, 2300 SW Seventh St.

Pantex workers built handicap ramps at three locations. The Texas Ramp Project helps provide access for people to leave their homes for appointments and other activities.

Happy State Bank employees updated the conference rooms at the United Way of Amarillo & Canyon, 2207 Line Ave.

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