Gary honors volunteers for service
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune correspondent April 12, 2013 2:42PM
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson (left) presents Margaret Dotson (center) with her certificate for volunteer work during the Mayor's Day of Recognition for National Service press conference at City Hall in Gary, Ind. Tuesday April 9, 2013. Area charities and volunteer organizations were recognized, as well as, many seniors who volunteer their time. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
AT A GLANCE
Organizations and Groups recognized for their volunteerism and community services: United Way RSVP (Retired Seniors Volunteer Program), Northwest Indiana Adult Guardianship Services, One Accord Global, The Northwest Indiana ARC, Sojourner Truth House, Catholic Charities, Foster Grandparent/Senior Companion Program.
Updated: April 16, 2013 3:04PM
Bonnie Gronendyke, volunteer services coordinator for The ARC Northwest Indiana, said volunteers get paid in ways that you cannot put on a paycheck and deposit in a bank.
Those words described the feelings of the roomful of local volunteers attending Gary mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service held April 9 in the Gary Room at City Hall.
Freeman-Wilson said in a day and age when mayors have many challenges, they are more dependent on residents who set aside time to volunteer.
“Whether you are cleaning up or gardening, being a mentor to our youth, we want to say thank you for the work you do to improve and better the community and the city,” she said.
Freeman-Wilson presented certificates to the individual volunteers and proclaimed April 9, 2013 as National Service Recognition Day in the city of Gary.
Representatives from area organizations that work with volunteers praised them for devoting time to them.
United Way RSVP coordinator Michael Glorioso said volunteers ages 55 years and older who are part of the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program are appreciated for bringing their experience and time to be visit and help those in need.
Patricia Nagel, board vice chairperson and volunteer representative for NWI Adult Guardianship Services in Gary said their 5-year-old program seeks volunteers to assist mentally and developmentally disabled clients 18 years old and older who need help with daily activities and to keep their businesses in order.
“We have situations where many of our clients have families but the families don’t want anything to do with them. Our volunteers help a great deal,” Nagel said.
One Accord Global executive director LaToya Gilbert said the 10-year-old grass-roots program, in partnership with United Way, works with youth not only through musical therapy, but also through interacting with the natural environment.
“Our mission is, ‘Honor God by strengthening a connection between God, people and their environment,’” she said. “There is a disconnection between youth and the environment and we need volunteers to help the youth connect and make discoveries.”
The largest group of volunteers attending the news conference were volunteers from the Catholic Charities’ Foster Grandparent/Senior Companion Program. Executive director Judy Meux said the Foster Grandparent program is 11 years old and the Senior Companion program is 25 years old and one of only two such programs in the state of Indiana.
“This year with the Foster Grandparent Program, the volunteers have worked with 600 children in the Gary schools. In the Senior Companion Program, we’ve worked with 100 families so far this year,” Meux said.
Foster grandmother Hilda Banks of Gary said she’s volunteered at Webster Elementary as a “grandmother” to 32 sixth-graders for two years.
“I volunteer 4 1/2 hours daily, five days a week and I love it,” she said.