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VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: Sharon Tirrell

 Sharon Tirrell volunteers in the IAM thrift store and serves as vice president of its board of directors and chairs the Board Development and Governance Committee. [CONTRIBUTED] Sharon Tirrell volunteers in the IAM thrift store and serves as vice president of its board of directors and chairs the Board Development and Governance Committee. [CONTRIBUTED]

Sharon Tirrell

Interfaith Assistance Ministry

 

What do you do in your volunteer job?

 

I serve as Vice President of the IAM Board of Directors and Chair the Board Development and Governance Committee. I led our strategic planning process. On Tuesday mornings, I am a cashier in our wonderful new thrift store and love interacting with customers.


How long have you been volunteering?


I have volunteered during every phase of my adult life from Brownie and Girl Scout Leader to PTA president to a variety of boards. I was originally a clinical social worker but spent 20 years as a nonprofit executive and strategic planning consultant. So, when my husband and I moved to Henderson County in 2004 as retirees, I wanted to do direct service again. For eight years, I was a Literacy Council tutor and Guardian ad Litem. I joined the Board of the Literacy Council, eventually serving as president. I have been a United Way volunteer since 2009 and am in my 11th year on that board, having served as Strategic Planning Chair for six years. I chair the Henderson County Home and Community Block Grant Advisory Committee. I was on the Henderson County Board of Social Services for three years, serving as vice president and president.


Why do you volunteer?


I grew up in a culture of giving. I was taught to help people who had less than I and to volunteer in the community. So, I feel that responsibility naturally. But as a retiree, especially since I live alone now, it is necessary for my mental health. I need meaningful work to do, and I need to be involved with other people. I get as much or more than I give.

What’s the best thing about volunteering?


Feeling useful and getting to know some very good people. I have been privileged to work with many of our finest business and civic leaders, and I get to know other volunteers who share my values.


Based on your own experience, what advice would you give someone interested in volunteering?


Consider the level of involvement you want. Would you get satisfaction from having a personal relationship with a child or adult, helping them grow and learn? Then, tutoring or mentoring is for you. If you’d rather be behind the scenes, or if you aren’t here year-round, sorting food at a food pantry or clothing at a thrift store or shelving books at Friends of the Library are some of many choices. How about volunteering with an older child to provide a learning experience?