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An ‘Awesome’ Day of Caring - Bowling Green Daily News: Local

An ‘Awesome’ Day of Caring

Volunteers build mulch bed, offer tips to refugees on basic automobile care

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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2012 11:34 am | Updated: 10:12 am, Wed Dec 10, 2014.

Spotting Timothy in his newly constructed mulch bed was very difficult.

The baby turtle might have burrowed deep into the mulch near a tiny tree in an area created especially for him and other newly hatched turtles. It has a pool that will provide water and help keep him cool until the sun goes down. That’s when Timothy and seven adult turtles come out to delight the residents of Greenwood Nursing and Rehab Center. Canteen Service Co. employees Faye Baxter and Amy Grace volunteered there Wednesday as part of United Way of Southern Kentucky’s Day of Caring.

“I’ve enjoyed it. It has been an awesome day so far,” Baxter said as she painted black letters on a yellow turtle crossing sign to help residents and visitors be careful when walking or rolling in wheelchairs through the courtyard. “It’s a chance to give back to the elderly who have given so much to us. We’ve giving them something that gives them joy and pleasure.”

The sanctuary started when a staff member brought in a turtle to show residents and other members of the staff. The turtle found a home in the nursing home’s courtyard. It wasn’t long before employees brought in adult turtles they’d found on the side of the road.

“They brought them so they wouldn’t get run over,” activities director Nolly Costello said.

Some of the residents like to go outside to look at the turtles while others watch them from inside. Sometimes the turtles get to go inside to visit the residents, Costello said.

“We bring them in periodically and do turtle races,” she said, smiling. “The residents bet with candy.”

The nursing home staff believes there may be other babies, but so far they haven’t found any, Costello said. The new mulch bed will give them a safe place to grow and make visitors aware of them. Costello hopes more turtles make a home at the facility.

“We have plenty of space here,” she said, motioning around the courtyard.

At Holy Spirit Catholic Church, a group of volunteers taught some teen refugees how to perform basic automobile care.

“What kind of vehicles do your moms and dads drive?” asked volunteer Wade Walters of U.S. Bank.

Some of the boys watched quietly as they learned about windshield wiper fluid, antifreeze, oil and power steering fluids as well as the correct place to put them.

“You don’t want to put the oil where you put the power steering fluid,” Walters said.

The workshop is important to refugees, said Jennifer Bell, director of CEDARS, a nonprofit ministry at Holy Spirit, and refugee empowerment services coordinator at the Western Kentucky University ALIVE Center.

“Many who have spent time in refugee camps don’t have experience with cars. It is ingrained in our culture,” she said. “Not true with other cultures who have been through persecution and stayed at refugee camps for so long. When you’re in a human warehouse situation, you may be cut off from civilization.”

Wednesday’s workshop targeted people from Swahili, Kirundi and Burmese cultures. There were translators on hand to help if needed.

“We’re trying to target the biggest groups of refugees,” said Julie Rivas, ALIVE Center multicultural service assistant coordinator.

By teaching them about auto care, the volunteers are helping to integrate the refugees into the community, Bell said.

“They’re buying cars. They’re getting their cars serviced. They’re connecting into the mainstream and Western community,” she said.

Htoo Mu, 13, and Baw Reh, 14, who are both Burmese, said they learned from the workshop and plan to share what they learned with their parents. Baw said his family got their first car in 2010, and he was a little afraid of it at first.

His feelings have changed since then.

“I feel happy,” he said.

Welcome to the discussion.