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Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Gift of time

January 9, 2002

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In our rushed world, the people who give their time as volunteers are a valuable commodity.

Volunteers are some of the most important people in Lawrence.

A story in the Journal-World's Arts & Living section Sunday served as a good reminder of the many contributions volunteers make to our community. Monetary gifts keep many local agencies afloat, but in this hurried age, a volunteer's gift of time may be a more precious commodity than cash.

The story focused on volunteers of all ages. One worked with children, another with cancer patients. There was a volunteer board member, a Red Cross instructor and an office assistant. In every case, their contributions were vital to their organizations.

In some cases, these volunteers help make the big decisions. As president of the Lawrence Arts Center board, Marilyn Dobski has helped with planning and development of the new arts center that will open next May. Ken Baldwin leads a Red Cross disaster team and teaches classes in such life-saving areas as CPR, First Aid, swimming safety and baby-sitting.

For other volunteers, it's the little things that count. Hospital staff members get busy, so if Wallace May sees a patient who's cold, he does the obvious; he gets a blanket and a warm drink. Leonora Barker is a retired secretary, but she puts her skills to work one day a week at Trinity Respite Care, where she files and types. She also handles what could be one of the most important tasks for any agency, and that is to write thank-you letters to donors and providers who help the agency.

And one volunteer in Sunday's story, Jill Tisdale, represents a special group of volunteers in Lawrence Kansas University students. Jill, who is from Lawrence, volunteers with the VanGo Mobile Arts program and works with children and teen-agers on artwork they do in the program and sell in the community.

Each of these people is a cog in Lawrence's volunteer network. The individual tasks they perform may be large or small, but each is important to providing the services that make Lawrence such a special place.

In many cases, these volunteers are working in an area they consider fun or fulfilling. Perhaps they will be an inspiration to other Lawrence residents to look at their own areas of interest and identify a good place to volunteer their time and expertise.

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