SHERIDAN — Though the Up With People visit to Sheridan ends tonight with a second and final performance of their show, the group’s impact on Sheridan will be felt for a long time.
During the past week, the 100 cast members divided up projects for local charitable organizations. Collectively, the group donated hundreds of volunteer hours to a half dozen local organizations.
“In Sheridan, the community impact aspect of the program is one of the main reasons the sponsors, the Homer and Mildred Scott Foundation, First Interstate Bank, Tandem Productions and the extended Scott Family, brought the organization here,” said Misael Oliver, a promotion representative with UWP. “Volunteering and a commitment to the value of social responsibility have been core elements of the Up with People program for decades. UWP students have performed an estimated three million volunteer hours worldwide.”
Local groups that benefited from the group’s donation of time include Habitat for Humanity, Rehabilitation Enterprises of North Eastern Wyoming, Children and Horses in PartnerShip, the Wyoming Girls School, the Sheridan Dog and Cat Shelter and the Tongue River Valley Community Center. UWP participants also spent time with seniors at the Senior Center and local nursing homes.
In addition, the group hosted a culture fair at Kendrick Park on Thursday to introduce local residents to their cultures and traditions.
“We are excited because these are older youth volunteers than we usually get and thus able to do a more complex project,” Sheridan Dog and Cat Shelter Director Cel Hope said about the benefits the shelter received from the volunteers. “We’ve been wanting to make elevated beds for our cat cages for perhaps three years, but it is a big project and requires carefully precise cutting and gluing. They also enjoyed walking the dogs and interacting with the cats.”
“It’s very unique and it is really impressive,” added Matt Davis, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Bighorns, whose organization had approximately 60 volunteers this week. “It is just amazing. And the fact that Up With People not only entertains but also integrates into our community is such a great, great thing for Sheridan and all the communities they touch.”
The volunteers painted the interior of one house and the exterior of another house under construction, helping the Habitat group achieve their goal of providing four homes in the community this year.
As the group continues their world tour this fall, they will volunteer at every community where they perform.
“Time’s our greatest asset in life,” UWP member Tono Gonzalez of Mexico said about what he enjoys about the volunteer aspect of the program.
“I really appreciate to have the opportunity to spend time with hundreds of people around the world and share with them what UWP is about,” he said. “Almost always people appreciate what we are doing and want to be part of it somehow.”