Paint-stained pants, saw-dust covered shoes, and sweaty clothes were the norm for volunteers at the ninth annual Cherokee Day of Caring on Thursday, May 16.
More than 200 volunteers from Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, tribal entities, and the community traveled to 11 sites across the Cherokee region to assist their neighbors in need.
What started out as a conversation between Harrah’s Cherokee, the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in 2005 has turned into a yearly community-wide outreach event.
“We have grown from having just a few hammers, nails, and 2x4s to completing full-on home renovations with handicap ramps, landscaping, and deck building,” Janna Hyatt, Harrah’s Cherokee community relations specialist, said. “Now, we have hundreds of volunteers show up to assist people they may or may not know.”
The daylong event builds on the Cherokee ga-du-gi tradition of community service. Each community club within the 10 communities on the Qualla Boundary nominates a beneficiary of the community endeavor. This year, because of the overwhelming volunteer response, the program was able to assist 11 families and individuals through painting, landscaping, and construction.
This year, Jim Ed and Jesse Maney of the Painttown community were nominated to be a part of Cherokee Day of Caring. Dozens of volunteers worked tirelessly throughout the day to construct a new handicap accessible deck and put a fresh coat of paint on their home.
“This is a huge help to us,” Jim Ed Maney said. “I’m disabled, and Jesse isn’t able to get around well either. The handicap accessible deck will make it safer for the both of us.”
Over the years, due to health issues, the Maneys have not been able to complete necessary renovations around their house. The construction of a new deck seemed out of reach for the couple until they found out a flurry of volunteers would be descending on their house for Cherokee Day of Caring.
“It’s so important for people to take time out of their day to give back to others in the community,” Harrah’s Cherokee general manager and senior vice president Brooks Robinson said. “The event is not only a way to help out neighbors; it’s also a great way to meet new people.”
This year, Cherokee Day of Caring was sponsored by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, The Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Office of Principal Chief Hicks, Cherokee Boys Club, EBCI Housing Division, and EBCI Facilities Management.
– Harrah’s Cherokee
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