By Cathy Deters
The year I retired from a teaching career (2008), I knew I would need to do something to occupy the time I had spent in the classroom. There was a void in my life and I wasn’t sure how to fill it. My dear friend, Beverly Meier, suggested that I volunteer for NFED at their local office.
Bev and Mary Kaye Richter had built the Foundation from the ground up, putting our small town of Mascoutah, IL, on the map. Being a part of something so BIG and so SIGNIFICANT was thrilling to me.
Several of Mascoutah’s finest and well-respected women were my mentors. They showed me how to fold, stuff, stamp, and organize the mailings we were responsible for completing in an efficient manner. I learned so much from working with them. They had YEARS of experience being volunteers at NFED and they shared their love for the Foundation in every duty they performed-teaching me along the way.
For several years, I volunteered on a regular basis and was even promoted to using the computers, running off materials, putting introductory packets together for new families, and organizing the archives.
Each time I entered NFED headquarters, I felt the passion the staff felt for the families and the true appreciation they felt towards the volunteers. We were important-we were needed! And, that is what makes volunteering so very vital.
Being a volunteer gave me a purpose and a goal. That goal was to make every activity I performed a helpful one that would make the job of the staff a little bit easier. Unfortunately, I had to cut back on my volunteering when my elderly mother needed more assistance. But, I will always remember the importance of being a helping hand. My dad always told me, “Don’t you retire!” What Dad really meant was not to retire from life after retirement.
We must feel needed. And, volunteering at NFED gave me that feeling of being needed. I will always be grateful for the experience and always grateful to Bev for suggesting it. I will continue to be a part of something as great as the NFED for years to come, if they let me and so can you!
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