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January 27, 2010 > Rain fails to dampen spirit of Kaiser volunteers

Rain fails to dampen spirit of Kaiser volunteers

Submitted By Johnny Ng

Despite heavy rain, Kaiser Permanente staff, physicians and nurses from southern Alameda County took time off from work on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to participate in the annual Kaiser Permanente Day of Service.

This year, 60 volunteers braved the cold rain and rolled up their sleeves to help clean, paint, organize and beautify a women and children's shelter in the Tri-City area operated by Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments (SAVE), a nonprofit community-based organization that helps those experiencing family violence.

Beginning at 9 a.m. teams of volunteers fanned out to various parts of the shelter with their assignments. Two large teams headed to the living rooms where they swept the floors, washed window shades and cleaned walls in preparation for painting. Crews built shelves, vacuumed and organized the pantries that store clothing donations to the shelter. Others cleaned the kitchen and organized cooking utensils. Six hours later, after the paint on the walls dried, volunteers moved all of the furniture back into place, vacuumed the floors and did a final touch-up, right before the next rainstorm began.

"Everything turned out even better than we had hoped," said Kate Hart, SAVE Director of Residential Services. "We just kept walking around the house, talking about how nice everything looked. And then the residents started to arrive home and they were all so impressed with how it all turned out."

Based in Fremont and founded in 1976, SAVE provides alternatives to domestic violence through support services, advocacy and education, and assists domestic violence victims and their families to end the cycle of violence. The nonprofit organization offers complete services from crisis to the establishment of a violence-free, self-sufficient life.

For this year's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, Kaiser Permanente partnered with Rebuilding Together (formerly Christmas in April), the largest volunteer rehabilitation organization in America which provides free services to low-income homeowners, particularly the elderly, disabled and families with children.

This year marks Kaiser Permanente's sixth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. The effort is part of a national initiative by Dr. King's late wife, Coretta Scott King, who said, "The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people celebrate the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others."

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