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Volunteers of the Year: IAM, HonorFlight, Literacy Council, Crossnore

On Thanksgiving, we are featuring our Season of Giving Q&As of people that agency leaders nominated as their volunteers of the year. We have 12 we are featuring them four at a time through the weekend.

 

CATHERINE LYNCH, Interfaith Assistance Ministry

 

What do you do in your volunteer job?


I have two volunteer jobs at Interfaith Assistance Ministry. First, I am an intake interviewer. This entails meeting with neighbors in need, hearing their story and assisting them with their most immediate concerns. As IAM’s motto is “A hand up, not a hand out”, the interviewer provides the Neighbor with local resources that are relevant to that neighbor’s needs. For those short of food and clothing, other sources for these necessities are given. For those who are grieving, information is given on where to receive counseling. For those who are chronically late with bills, budget classes are provided. IAM works to assist the total person, leaving them in “a better place” than before they came through our doors. My second volunteer job is as coordinator of the Interfaith Driver Program. People sometimes walk to IAM or take public transportation. After receiving food, clothing and sometimes bedding, they need a ride home. The Interfaith Driver Program is composed of two roles, the role of dispatcher and the role of driver. The dispatcher of any given day calls from a pool of drivers to find someone who is able to do the drive. In driving people home, the poverty in Henderson County becomes apparent. Drivers and dispatchers know that they have truly helped those people who have no transportation. Never has a client not expressed their gratitude for getting those very needed items home.

How long have you been volunteering?


After retiring three years ago, I was looking for ways to spend my time in a meaningful way. I had already been a driver for the IAM Driver Program and was aware of the good work this agency does. I started working as a volunteer intake interviewer about three years ago.

Why do you volunteer?


Booker T. Washington said, “Those who are the happiest are those who do the most for others”. I want to spend my time in meaningful pursuits, knowing that in some way I have helped to leave a person in need better off than I found that person. In doing so, I am better off as well. It is a “two-way street,” a win-win situation. That is why I volunteer.

What’s the best thing about volunteering?


In volunteering at IAM, I am a part of something larger than myself. There are different volunteer roles at IAM, each performing their specific task to reach the desired end of helping our neighbors in need in the way each individual person needs it. In my volunteer role, there are friendships to be made and a sense of camaraderie that is deeply satisfying. I never leave a shift that I have worked that I am not glad that I came.

If someone is interested in volunteering, what is the best advice you would give based on your own experience?


In deciding whether to volunteer, a person can look into him/herself and ask how he/she wants to give back to their community. In life, we have all been helped by someone or some agency that has enriched our lives and/or eased a burden. It’s a matter of “paying it forward.” The goal of whatever volunteer work one does, is to help the endeavor of the agency one is volunteering with. It is gratifying to put to good use the gifts that each one of us has been given. It’s a good way to live.

 

KRIS SOOTS, Blue Ridge Honor Flight

What do you do in your volunteer job?
Anything and everything asked! I would say my “job” (is it really a job if you love what you’re doing?) is working closely with JoAnn Naeger, who is the Registration Coordinator. We get out in the community to talk to and recruit Veterans and Guardians for future flights and answer any questions they may have. I also help review all applications that are received, match veterans and guardians for the flights, help organize events, coordinate fellow volunteers as needed for events. You name it, we’re involved somewhere, somehow!

How long have you been volunteering?


I went on my first flight with BRHF as a Guardian in September 2018. I have done other volunteer work throughout my life. As a veteran myself, I enjoy the camaraderie and now tend to lean towards organizations that help out my fellow brothers and sisters.

Why do you volunteer?


The world is bigger than just me. What may seem like a simple little thing we’ve done for somebody else may mean the world to that person.

What’s the best thing about volunteering?


Being able to honor the veterans and giving a lot of them the “Welcome Home” that they didn’t get. After a flight, it’s the phone calls and emails about how the flight and the new friendships made on a flight have a healing effect for many of these veterans. It’s meeting new people. It’s working with the phenomenal people that make up the team of Blue Ridge Honor Flight. So many “best things” I can’t list them all.

If someone is interested in volunteering, what is the best advice you would give based on your own experience?


Do it! If it interests you enough to look into it, how will you know if you like it or not unless you just go for it? The mission of BRHF interested me enough to apply to be a guardian that first time and after my first flight and seeing how much of an impact that day had on the veterans, my heart told me I needed to get more involved and I am so glad I did!

CAROL PRATER, Blue Ridge Literacy Council

 

What do you do in your volunteer job?


As a BRLC volunteer, I teach digital literacy classes for seniors. These classes focus on how to use computers as tools for enhancing everyday life. I also participate in the BRLC Family Literacy program. This program provides guidance for families in how to build a robust literacy environment in the home. I’m one of four child care providers who watch the wee ones while the parents are engaged in formal classroom training with BRLC education specialists.

How long have you been volunteering?


I have volunteered with BRLC since 2012.

Why do you volunteer?


I volunteer because I want to do something meaningful with my free time. I am fortunate that I am now in a position to give back to the community.

What's the best thing about volunteering?


The surprises are the best part of volunteering. Not one session passes where I don’t think to myself “Wow. That’s amazing to see.” Computers, toys, seniors, kids…. they all bring surprises.

If someone is interested in volunteering, what is the best advice you would give based on your own experience?


My advice: don’t wait. You’re wasting time. If the volunteer role is not a good fit, you’ll know quickly. But if it is a good fit, you’ll be so glad you took that step.

 

KRISTEN MARTIN, Crossnore School and Children’s Home

What do you do in your volunteer job?


My husband and I have been trained as foster parents with Crossnore.

How long have you been volunteering?


We began this process earlier this year.

Why do you volunteer?


Every day we see how blessed we are. Neither one of us experienced any trauma during childhood. We had two loving parents, loving families and friends. We believe in the mission of Crossnore and the work they do to help children and families recover from trauma.

What's the best thing about volunteering?


Seeing families and children recover, stabilize and find healing is life changing to see.

If someone is interested in volunteering, what is the best advice you would give based on your own experience?


Find your passions, research local agencies, talk to staff, and go for a tour before signing up as a volunteer.

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Return to the Lightning for more volunteer profiles on Thanksgiving weekend.