Agencies hold appreciation dinner for their volunteers

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Area agencies enthusiastically recognized their volunteers during April, National Volunteer Month.

The Volunteer Intergenerational Center and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program recently held an appreciation dinner for more than 250 volunteers at the Bavarian Halle. The event was sponsored by the Southeast Missouri Area on Aging.

RSVP has been providing volunteer services in Scott and Cape Girardeau counties for 34 years. VIC, which recruits volunteers of all ages, began in 2002 in the Cape Girardeau area and expanded operations into Scott County this January. Both agencies help expand services in not-for-profit agencies. The two volunteer programs connect volunteers and resources so they can work effectively and efficiently to make positive change in the community.

RSVP/VIC director Tina Dohogne said the organizations present awards to all their volunteers at one time instead of individual awards. "It avoids hurt feelings because all volunteers are special and valuable in their own unique way."

The youngest volunteer, 4 1/2-year-old Jeremy Mayhall, attended the dinner with his mother, Iris. Mother and son volunteer together Sunday afternoons at Auburn Creek Assisted Living. Mayhall said she got the idea to become a volunteer by following the example of a former co-worker, Erin Venable, who incorporated volunteerism in the classroom.

The mother-and-son volunteer team began volunteering about six months ago.

"I have seen a huge change in my son since we started doing this," Mayhall said. "He looks forward to going there and playing Yahtzee with Miss Alice and Mr. Leon."

When she recently gave him a dime for helping around the house, instead of keeping the money for himself the youngster placed it in the box designated for charitable contributions. "Jeremy said it was for helping that blind person at the home," she said.

When she first contacted VIC, Mayhall told them she liked older people. For Jeremy, the older generation he interacts with and has grown to care about are almost like surrogate grandparents. "My parents live in St. Louis, and his other grandparents live in either Arizona or Washington," she said.

Other volunteers include retiree the Rev. Al Nyland, who serves on the advisory board and volunteers at the Jackson Senior Center when he is able to, and Dorothy Dees, who also is on the advisory board and volunteers at the Scott County Food Pantry.

A video of volunteer stories included Hospice volunteer Carolyn Pickens. "It's not difficult to work in Hospice," she said. "We don't talk about death. It doesn't come into the conversation. If it were my mom or aunt I'd like someone to visit them and just be nice. That's kind of the attitude I have."

For more information, contact RSVP/VIC at 887-3664 or 471-8584.

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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