Why Volunteer? Here’s Some Testimony From Your Neighbors 

We have written about several volunteer opportunities available in SoDel, and there’s no shortage of nonprofits in need of worker bees, as one friend describes herself. 

I’ve talked with neighbors and acquaintances about the “why” behind their motivation to donate their time and talent. I was sure to ask a cross section of volunteers; the opportunities are seemingly endless. 

Sue C. is the consummate volunteer, and she was the first person who came to mind. A retired special education teacher who moved back to Delaware about three years ago, Sue immediately immersed herself in the Historic Lewes Farmers Market, Zwaanendael Women’s Club, Lewes in Bloom and Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park. 

With the farmers market, she expresses the satisfaction of supporting local farmers and vendors. The Zwaanendael Women’s Club, in existence since 1905 is a charitable organization that raises money and provides support for other organizations and events. Sue hadn’t known about it until someone from Lewes in Bloom introduced her to it. 

Cape Henlopen State Park, Sue describes is her “happy place” because of its natural beauty. So it made perfect sense to get involved as a volunteer for trail and beach cleanups and fundraising events. She especially enjoys the wonders of being outside in our area’s treasured park. 

All of these organizations have introduced Sue to many new friends and connections, and more importantly as she says, is the laughter and camaraderie with other volunteers. 

Nancy and Pat D. are volunteers with Special Olympics of Delaware and the Food Bank of Delaware. Special Olympics is endeared to them because they have a nephew with special needs. The food bank is equally important to them, having witnessed firsthand the hidden problem of food insecurity in Delaware due to Nancy’s former job as a nurse in the public health sector. Nancy and Pat, both retired, say they enjoy doing their part however small to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate neighbors. 

Frank S. is a volunteer driver for a local senior center. He’s on call for providing rides for people without transportation. He drives them to doctor appointments, grocery shopping and more. He’s also a volunteer for the local chapter of Meals on Wheels, which provides a hot meal every weekday to homebound seniors. He often stays a few minutes to chat after a delivery. “Some of these people are unfortunately alone and very lonely. I learn from them; I laugh and listen. That’s what motivates me.” 

Alex F. volunteers for the Brandywine Valley SPCA in its Georgetown chapter. Whether it’s walking several dogs in one day, working as an ambassador at adoption awareness events or fostering animals unsuited for shelter life for a myriad of reasons, Alex tirelessly works to make life easier for them. Ironically, he doesn’t own a dog or cat of his own. “I’d rather give a hand up to the ones that need my help.” 

Delaware has a unique agency: State Office of Volunteerism. One of its divisions is dedicated to seniors Volunteer Delaware 50+ promotes volunteerism amongst seniors and tracks the number of hours served on behalf of the participating nonprofits – a very helpful statistic that can translate into matching gifts from donors, or enhance grant proposals. 

Volunteer Delaware 50+ also provides a comprehensive list of nonprofits seeking volunteers and is broken down into counties. Sussex County has offices in Georgetown that coordinate the interview process. The agency will also cover accident and liability insurance free of charge in the event of, let’s say, an accident or injury during your shift. 

Another great resource for finding you ideal volunteer opportunity is Volunteer Match. If you would prefer to volunteer on a regional or national level, many larger organizations such as American Cancer Society or SPCA International have plenty of volunteer wish lists. 

We hope you will join thousands of Delaware volunteers. As Winston Churchill said, “You make a living by what you make. You make a life by what you give.” 

Bridget FitzPatrick 

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