Julia Kaloumenos said she was feeling community support Thursday.

“It really warms my heart,” said the single mother and participant in the Jeremiah Program.

Volunteers organized by the United Way had been painting the walls outside her apartment on the former Crossroads College campus during the morning, and by noon she was in a chair at Orchid Salon and Spa, where stylists Aleisha York and Emma Dalton were giving her their undivided attention.

It was all part of the United Way of Olmsted County’s Day of Action, which was used to kick off the organization’s annual fundraising campaign.

Jerome Ferson, the organization’s president, said the effort demonstrates this year’s campaign theme: Show your local love.

“The act of love is volunteering, donating and advocating for those in need,” he said from the Crossroads campus, as he prepared to help volunteers Luke Greden and Katherine Lutzke from CliftonLarsonAllen get started with more painting Thursday afternoon.

MaryAnne Ortiz, housing coordinator for the Crossroads campus housing operated by Bear Creek Christian Church, said the help adds to what the church can do for the families and individuals it serves.

“This kind of project would be put on the backburner,” she said of Thursday’s painting.

Likewise, several of the Jeremiah Program’s single mothers at Orchid Salon and Spa said their hair and nails are typically put off in lieu of caring for their children, going to school and working.

“A situation like this is unheard of for us,” said Sarah Rieke as she waited to receive a manicure from Amy Packman. “We don’t spend money on pampering ourselves.”

Mary Jo Majerus, owner of the spa’s parent company Healing Touch Spa, said she knows that’s true. As a single mother with grown children, Majerus said she still remembers the need to make tough choices, and pampering wouldn’t come close to making the cut.

It’s why she jumped at the chance to fill the salon’s schedule with free appointments for single mothers in the Jeremiah Program, which works with the young families to provide a path out of poverty.

Throughout the day, several other groups were also taking action, from sorting and packing food at Channel One to helping clean at a variety of agencies.

Ferson said the work of approximately 125 volunteers throughout the community paled in what was planned, but many projects were canceled due to rainy conditions.

“If the weather would have cooperated, we would have had 450 or so,” he said.

Several of the projects that were set aside could still be completed, he added, noting the United Way will seek to connect the agencies with volunteers when possible.

Additionally, he said the work of the annual campaign is just starting with a hope of exceeding its $3.25 million goal.

More information on the United Way campaign and volunteer efforts can be found at www.uwolmsted.org.

What's your reaction?