Volunteering should be simple, shouldn’t it? Building off my Co-Editor’s May Observer editorial draft, with a shared desire to improve our community, I am dedicating this editorial to providing information and perspective about how and why to volunteer. Much of this information was obtained from interviews I did with successful volunteers. Warning: If you continue reading, you may experience a desire to participate and that could add that wonderful sense of purpose and meaning to your life!
My quest for information started by grilling people at the Observer to collect a list of the volunteer options in our community. No surprise – with a mission statement that starts, “To build a sense of community…,” our Observer staff delivered. It was a “twofer,” as I not only received the information needed, but I learned firsthand the very experience, as a volunteer, I was looking for. It instilled in me a sense of purpose and left me feeling appreciated, respected and encouraged. They loved my idea of making volunteering more accessible. They assured me that the readers would also. They contributed ideas of their own and appreciated my taking the time to pursue and contribute. I went to bed feeling like I was doing the most wonderful thing.
The Observer staff had me start my quest with Kacy Colston. She has gone the extra mile to keep a personal record of over 60 community organizations and key contact information. There is a partial list included on page 4 of this issue.
Kacy’s own passion is the Friends of the Farm at Hilltop [FOFAH]. For her, it is not only about the mission of connecting people with the land and all that is learned from it, but the fulfilling feeling she gets from being a contributing part of someone’s experience on the farm as it impacts them. She had a student who had no concept of a rake, let alone how to use one. His learning experience was priceless, which could not have happened without the hands-on opportunity FOFAH and its volunteers enables.
Stephanie Dolan, of the Friends of Suffield (FOS), first attended the free FOS “Spring Event” in 2011. She and her family had such fun with bunnies, egg hunts and other games, she decided Suffield was the type of town she wanted to make “home” and moved here from Windsor. Now, as a FOS volunteer, she is fulfilled all year long with great moments, seeing the joy on seniors’ faces at the Valentine Social, watching eyeballs pop out of little ones’ faces when they see Santa come to their home and engaging with the full town as they all come out for Suffield on the Green. She added, “It can get hectic at times, but it is all worth it as we hand out grant checks in May to so many grateful recipients. Then they too will go on to further our FOS mission: to make our community a better place. Suffield is the best place on the planet!”
Kerry White, a long-time member of The Friends of the Kent Memorial Library said, “I think the greatest joy in volunteering for the book sale comes from two things: the gratitude we volunteers feel when so many others show up to help us at critical times, and the delight we get from seeing a patron – often a child – discover a great ‘find’ at the book sale.”
Lisa Pepe, President of Suffield Woman’s Club said, “I am so grateful to have made friendships with people I might never have met if not for volunteering with the Suffield Woman’s Club.”
Ann Borg, of the West Suffield Village Improvement Association (WSVIA) that maintains Academy Hall in West Suffield says, “Those of us who volunteer for the WSVIA have made many people happy by providing a pleasant place for their parties, showers, weddings, etc. We love hearing how much they and their guests enjoyed our building.
In the chart to the right, look for the group best for you, that will improve your life and the lives of others. Be a role model. Reach out today and contact one of these organizations.