St. Mary's High School freshman Andrew Young is an old hand when it comes to the United Way Day of Caring.

St. Mary's High School freshman Andrew Young is an old hand when it comes to the United Way Day of Caring.

Four years ago, Young and his family helped create a meditation garden at the Addictions Recovery Center on West Main Street in Medford.

Young was back on the job Saturday, along with more than two-dozen volunteers, sprucing up the Addictions Recovery Center. He was helping spread granite on a new pathway connecting the center's building with an outdoor smoking area.

It was one of 10 sites around town where more than 400 volunteers painted, built fences, gardened and laid sod during the Jackson County United Way 14th Annual Day of Caring.

"After working on the garden, I knew when I got into high school that I wanted to do some more stuff," Young said. "It's a really rewarding experience. When you are done with it, you can step back and see what you've done."

Erin Lopez and her children, Elena and Junior — fifth- and fourth-graders at Mountain View Elementary School in White City — are also Day of Caring veterans. Two years ago, the Lopezes cleared weeds, pruned branches and worked on pathways at Bear Creek Park. Saturday they were painting a fence at Addictions Recovery Center. With a half-dozen people wielding brushes, the job went quickly.

The setting was different from Erin Lopez's typical daily task at Wells Fargo's Crater Lake Plaza branch. Instead of greeting about 80 customers at her teller's window, she was dressing up about 80 fence planks.

"I really enjoy doing something for the community with my kids," Lopez said. "Wells Fargo likes to do a lot of volunteer work."

Ed Burns, operations manager at ARC, estimated the pathway project — including two pallets of pavers — would have cost $3,000.

"We're operating 24/7, and our clients are here all the time," Burns said. "So besides the expense, if we had to do something like this on our own it would be disruptive."

Burns said some of the volunteers were ARC clients.

"That's a big thing for them, being able to give something back," Burns said. "By the time they come to us, there's not a lot they can do because they have burned so many bridges."

Service clubs, institutions and businesses pitched in to help out nonprofit agencies in Ashland, Medford and Phoenix.

"It's an extraordinary gesture and we consider it a tremendous amount of help," said Lucie Scheuer, development director at the Phoenix Counseling Center on South Main Street. "We have 200 to 300 clients per year, and there is no way with the size of staff we have to refurbish the building and do the kinds of things we'd like to do without this."

The 1920s Craftsman-style house used to be a restaurant and now provides meeting space from ground to attic.

"This is the third year in a row we've had volunteers," Scheuer said. "Most nonprofits don't have money to fix up their places. Each year you designate the area you need the most help, and (United Way) provides the volunteers. It's astounding what they can do in seven or eight hours."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.