New Canaan Advertiser Op-Ed: "Volunteering is one of the best things for your community — and for yourself"
Posted on January 3, 2018
See full article in New Canaan Advertiser
by Sue Anderson
"Volunteering is one of the best things for your community — and for yourself."
My late mom, Lois Anderson, said those words to me when I was a teenager. Ultimately those words steered my life and set a tone for our family. I remember volunteering alongside my mom on many occasions, registering voters with the League of Women Voters, delivering Meals on Wheels, remodeling the ABC house with the whole family, and joining nursing home residents weekly at Waveny Care Center for social hour.
Volunteering and community service have always been a part of our family legacy. When we moved to New Canaan in the mid-1960s, our parents jumped right in. They served on nearly every board in this town at one point or another. I did service trips, joined the Peace Corps, and followed a professional path of nonprofit work. In that career, I managed thousands of volunteers and was often a volunteer myself. My brother has been a volunteer firefighter for decades and his children have volunteered wherever they have lived. So when we wanted to leave a charitable legacy in my mom’s memory, our family decided to support the Volunteer Program at Waveny Care Center. We know that, while volunteers themselves are not paid, volunteer programs need the resources to manage volunteers in their work or the program cannot be successful.
Changing lives, communities
Volunteers at Waveny are important to the organization and those in their care. I also believe my mom’s words that volunteering is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our community. Waveny has a strong volunteer program, engaging people of all ages to serve in many different roles. Individual volunteers benefit Waveny’s clients, patients and staff, but the program is important to the larger community as well. When volunteers move on from their volunteer work there, the experience has changed them. Once they have the sweet taste of helping others, they will do it again for other groups, in other communities and throughout their lives. They will hopefully pass that value on to their children.
To me, that is the best part of supporting this volunteer program – we are not only helping Waveny, we are changing the lives of volunteers themselves, and preparing them to create change elsewhere in the world. Volunteering builds stronger, more resilient communities and brings people together across generations.
When my mom was a patient at Waveny, the volunteers made a difficult situation for her and my family a little brighter. From the music programs, to pet therapy, to servers in the dining room, the volunteers made her smile. They may not have understood the difference they made to her and to us in the moment, but I hope they can look back and know they helped us all in a challenging time.
Donations being matched
We recently established a permanent charitable fund at Waveny to honor mom’s memory because of her commitment to volunteerism throughout New Canaan. We want to recognize the importance of volunteers and philanthropy to nonprofits like Waveny and to honor my mom’s legacy as a volunteer herself. We also want to inspire others to support this effort, so we are pleased to announce a challenge gift to encourage Waveny’s volunteers and others to join us in contributing to this effort. All gifts will be matched dollar for dollar up to $25,000 and will support the work of Waveny’s wonderful volunteers. Donations will have double the impact during this challenge, and my mom wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Our family wants to help ensure the financial security and success of many wonderful programs that make a real difference in the lives of Waveny families. I know from personal experience that having a family member as a patient is hard, even when you are part of the Waveny family. The Volunteer Program is a key component of the future of Waveny and truly makes a difference throughout the community.
Please support this effort. For more information, please email Cynthia Gorey at [email protected] or call her at 203-594-5446.