I would like you to meet Carol, Carolyn and Carol – hence the Carol-ing. The time they spend volunteering makes our community a richer, kinder place to live. Each woman has successfully combined her particular interests with organizations and activities to maximize their volunteering experiences. The joy works both ways. Volunteering lightens hearts of those being supported as well as those offering help. Everyone benefits.
Fun with Food
“I like produce,” said Carol Vannerson, who has been sorting and organizing fresh fruits and vegetables at the Thurston County Food Bank for almost eight years. Vannerson believes in the importance of all people eating healthful food. She works about ten hours each week. Initially, she started doing whatever they asked her to, which as she explained, “…is what a good volunteer does.” Now she considers herself the Produce Queen. She is constantly on her feet moving produce, restocking, and shelving. “It’s almost like going for a workout at the gym,” she told me. Vannerson is clearly happy to be part of connecting people with nutritious food.
Copious quantities of vegetables are no longer limited to the summer growing season. Multiple sources such as grocery stores and distribution centers keep the flow going year-round. In the summer there is even more food with the abundant number of gardens tended by churches, schools, and service organizations that donate generously. Local farms also support the food bank. Vannerson noted that although there has been more food to give out, there is an ever-increasing need.
Additionally, food bank volunteers are on hand to talk with clients about easy ways to use what is available and often provide samples.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at the food bank, you can talk with the Volunteer Coordinator, Jen Butti at 360-352-9597 ext. 107 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can easily find a job that suits you. As with many volunteer opportunities, there are flexible hours and days.
Music and Housewares
Carolyn Hendricks makes music with mallets. This type of percussion includes instruments such as orchestra bells, chimes, xylophones, and vibraphones, all of which Carolyn plays. She has been creating music with New Horizons for many years. This nationwide organization invites adults of all musical levels to join others to play together. It is a chance to bring music in your life, an activity that you may have put on the shelf for many years. In addition to weekly local practices, there are music camps across the US with special conductors and activities. Attendance at the band camps took Hendricks to Wisconsin, New York, Oregon, and California. The camaraderie and friendships gained there were important parts of life for Carolyn and her husband Jerry, who has since passed away.
The local New Horizons group, which includes between 60-80 musicians, practices every Wednesday at the Washington Land Yacht Harbor. The musicians are already getting ready for their community event on June 9 to support the Thurston County Food Bank. The local band camp is in July. For information on the Olympia group, click here.
Carolyn used to be a prolific quilter of baby blankets for Providence SoundHomeCare. She is modest about her quilting, saying that it was a “nice outlet for my not so great talent.” I’m sure the babies and families were thrilled.
More recently, Hendricks moved to Panorama. She decided to help out at the Stiles Beach Barn, a place that sells furniture, small appliances, dishes, and silverware. Anyone can donate. Proceeds go to the Benevolent Fund, which provides social and financial support to Panorama residents. That aspect resonated with Carolyn. What’s her job there? “I’m linens,” she smiled. Her varied volunteer activities remain an integral part of her life. To her it feels good, and she enjoys time with like-minded people. “I can’t imagine not having some of that in my life,” she said. In fact, she added, “I don’t have many friends who don’t volunteer.” The Barn is open Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
It’s Christmas every day for Carol Ames, a book lover. She’s created her niche at the Seattle Children’s Olympia Bargain Boutique. You can locate her there every Monday, culling through the most recent book donations. They are sorted, priced, and then integrated into the many shelves on the retail floor. “There’s a dab of everything,” Ames explains.
You can find history books, biographies, best sellers, cookbooks, a children’s area, and even a small selection about UFO’s. Currently, Ames is gearing up for the home and garden season. Stock is rotated monthly with new additions daily. Prices lower as each month passes.
Ames delights in a trifecta of being able to recycle so many goods while doing work that helps to pay for services to children. She thoroughly enjoys the social aspect of her time at the store as well. Over her decade at the Bargain Boutique, she has made special friends. All the while she gets to play with books. Another bonus is that Ames has always loved thrift shopping.
If you have never been to the Olympia Bargain Boutique, it is worth a visit. Although the space is limited, there is a plentiful assortment of housewares and furniture, clothes, jewelry, and artwork. There is even a children’s section with lots of books. Like the food bank, there are different volunteer opportunities available. “I highly recommend it,” said Ames.
It is particularly important to note that the personal health benefits of volunteering are now scientifically proven. It promotes a longer life with greater quality. As you make a difference, you lower your own stress and increase your self-esteem. You simultaneously help someone else as you help yourself. It is fun, and you get to interact with lots of interesting people. Best of all, you can find the right fit for your passions and your schedule. If you have any doubts about the value of volunteering, talk to a volunteer.
I completely enjoyed chatting with Carol Vannerson, Carolyn Hendricks and Carol Ames, about their experiences, and I became enthused by listening to them. What sounds good to you? Explore a few options by matching your interests with organizations at volunteer match. You can also search more articles about non-profit organizations published on ThurstonTalk. Why wait?