Since getting to know the Friendship Centers and many of the staff, over and over again I'm amazed at the resource they bring to the community. Meet two new members of the volunteer team, Maria Baskin and her husband. As a couple they were looking for ways to channel all their experience into volunteer work and lucky for us, they were introduced to the Venice Friendship Centers' Health Service clinic.
We all move to Southwest Florida for the sun and fun, and there is plenty of that. Even when it rains, it’s like “liquid sunshine.” Some of us, though, after too much sun and fun want to do something that’s emotionally fulfilling. It’s then that many of us turn to volunteering which offers a way to give back by sharing our knowledge and life experiences to do some good. Whatever our reasons for volunteering, when we give of our time, we get a lot more back.
My husband and I just recently moved to Venice from New York via North Carolina where we spent the last 17 years. After several months of unpacking and getting rid of “stuff,” we were ready to put in our time and share our skills to support a cause about which we felt passionate. After several tries volunteering, at some very worthy charitable organizations, stuffing envelopes and mailing invitations to luncheons (not that this is not valuable and necessary work), we realized we were looking to contribute in a different way. We were despondent and thought we would never find a “home.”
Enter: The Pat Buster Health Service clinic at the Venice Friendship Centers campus.
One Sunday evening while discussing our frustration with a friend, Marilyn, she mentioned hearing great things about the Venice Friendship Centers. First thing Monday, my husband and I sat at our computers and each printed out a summary of our life’s work on a couple of pages – not an easy thing to do, since most adults our ages have about 30-40 years of work-life experience.
We live near Jacaranda Boulevard and Tamiami Trail so getting to the Venice Friendship Centers, just a little north of Jacaranda off of Shamrock Drive, was a snap.
When we arrived at the tucked away entrance on Scenic Drive (which is all of a few hundred yards long), we quickly found The Pat Buster Health Service clinic. After giving the receptionist our resumes, we asked if someone were available to speak with us about volunteering. Within minutes the Director of Health Services, Lois Marshall, a warm welcoming individual, came out to greet us. As we sat and talked about volunteer opportunities at the clinic, the office was bustling. She and her staff keep the place humming and, as one USF intern I spoke to, Rachel Luther put it, the staff and volunteer doctors “go the extra mile” to take care of their patients.
We feel all grown up at the point in our lives and can now do the kind of work we always wanted to do but couldn’t, instead of what we had to do to make a living or raise our families. In July of this year, we kicked off our personal give-back journeys as volunteers at the Friendship Centers The Pat Buster Health Service clinic in Venice.
To find out how you can get more involved as a volunteer at the Friendship Centers, please contact Caroline Allen in Volunteer Development at the Friendship Centers in Sarasota. Getting involved as a volunteer is just a phone call away, 941.556.3249
About Maria Baskin
Maria Baskin is a new volunteer at the Venice Friendship Centers’ Pat Buster Health Service clinic in Venice and is helping to share the story of the clinic, its people and its purpose. Maria is a published writer with many years of experience as a creative writer in both academia and private industry.