On Friday, September 30th, a combination of OptumInsight providers, OptumHealth and United Health Group employees convened at the Marshall House Salvation Army, a local shelter for families in the Asylum Hill neighborhood of the city, for a day long service project. The 33 employee volunteers arrived enthusiastically with their vehicles filled with items to donate (diapers, wipes, paper products, etc.) and were greeted by both Marshall House and Hands On Hartford staff.
The employee volunteers were divided into multiple groups to tackle an ambitious undertaking of interior and exterior projects. The interior projects entailed painting nine bedrooms on the ground floor and the hallway. The bedrooms which were originally an institutional white came to life when coats of sage green paint were applied to the walls. While the painting was underway, another team focused their efforts on sanitizing the living and dining rooms as well as the kitchen. Not only were all surfaces/appliances in the kitchen thoroughly disinfected, but the pantries were also emptied, cleaned, organized and restocked. This brought a great big smile to the chef who simply does not have the time to perform these types of tasks due to the demands of the job.
The exterior work consisted of heavy weeding of an existing butterfly garden and raised beds located in the playground area. Once the butterfly garden was weed free, the team concentrated their efforts on the beds – they removed half of the existing soil, tilled the remaining soil and replenished the bed with fresh garden/topsoil. Once the beds were in good shape, the team then focused their efforts on planting fall bulbs and shrubs that totally transformed this outdoor space – making it a community garden for all to enjoy.
The day was an example of community at its best – a great collaborative effort – that was full of reflection and surprises. A couple of volunteers attempted to refinish an executive desk located in the main office at Marshall House, however, upon surveying the condition of the desk, they decided to purchase a new one from a local office supply store. This unexpected gesture of kindness was appreciated by all. As the day began to wind down, employees prepared 50 hygiene gift bags for the residents that promoted wellness and included items such as: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, loofah sponges, chapstick, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, sanitizer etc.) Additionally, the volunteers who prepared the bags also wrote inspirational/encouraging notes and included them in the bags that would later be distributed to the residents.
On this day, the volunteers donated a total of 264 hours to the community; they inspired the residents and staff by giving the shelter a ‘face-lift’ – beautifying it inside and outside while simultaneously promoting healthy living for both children and adults. This truly meant a lot to the residents who call Marshall House their home. This service day was made possible courtesy of funding from United Health Group.