Hillary Clinton gets credit for the quote, "It takes a village," but it applies to a lot more than just political campaigns.
This post from Donna Paganello points out a group of incredibly dedicated ladies who are a significant part of the Friendship Centers "village". In fact, while putting together flatware sets might not seem a big deal to all of us in our own kitchens, think about what you'd do if dozens of people were coming over for lunch every day to your house!
Donna sent me the post and made the comment in her email, "I wanted to acknowledge the ladies who tirelessly roll the flatware..." Well ladies, your support to the Friendship Centers is so appreciated and you're helping me make a very special point about volunteer work.
It's not just about the task, but the comradery that goes with it. You're a very special group and helping to make every day at the Friendship Centers "more than a meal".
Dolly Zirbel has been coming to the Friendship Center for about 20 year! She first came with a friend to listen to music and dance. He liked to play pool and pinochle. One time when they were here, Dolly observed a group of people rolling plastic flatware into individual bundles. Being her curious self, she asked them what this was about. Before long she was joining them weekly to prepare the utensils for the diners in the café. Serving others is clearing an important facet in Dolly’s routine wherever she goes.
SFC has come to rely on her each Wednesday morning to set up and organize the ‘flatware group’. Without these ladies we might all be eating with our fingers, I joke. They gather together, as if at a coffee klatch, each with their own job and together they secure enough cutleries for the week. It is a simple and mindless task, but essential. And I thought it was time they were recognized in the ‘digital world’!
Dolly is the leader of the pack, but let me introduce a few of her loyal and reliable crew; Mind you, this crew is ever changing.
Louise Cottom has been coming to the center for about four years. She enjoys volunteering in many capacities, clerical work being one of her favorites. Every leader needs a right hand gal and that would be Louise. When Dolly isn’t available, Louise steps in and carries the ball to the goal line; two large containers full of rolled utensil, plus those needed for our satellite sites. In addition to volunteering, Louise likes to play Bingo and take various classes offered at SFC, such as writing and painting. She enjoys the traveling slide shows that Ken Erb presents. She beams, “The socializing is fantastic! You can find people 20 years older and 20 years younger than yourself.”
Sandra Ransom moved to Sarasota from Hollywood Florida. In Hollywood, she volunteered at the senior center for 13 years in their kitchen. In Sarasota she comes to have lunch regularly and volunteer. She is so appreciative of the friendly people. “We all get along and laugh together and have a lot of fun!” Despite her arthritis and carpal tunnel issues, she finds a way to roll and fold with the ladies, and laugh. In particular, she notes with pride what a great time she had at the Volunteer Recognition event last month.
Maria – Maria’s story is quite remarkable! Living in New York City with her brother, Maria bought a book about retiring in Florida. She read the description of each city; trying to decide the best place for her and her brother to live. Based solely on a paragraph about the Senior Friendship Center and its mission, she decided Sarasota was the place to come; “Just knowing that such a place existed, to make other people’s lives better, was enough reason to pick Sarasota!” Now living in Venice, she takes the bus each Wednesday to volunteer at the Sarasota site. Her eyes sparkle as she describes the joy this brings her.
Patricia Russell moved here from Tampa. She volunteers at 2 sites and does many jobs. In addition to rolling the flatware, she really likes being at the front desk and greeting people when they first arrive at the Center. Currently she is involved in learning how to use a Tablet, through the Digital Aging Mastery Program. This is a new program at SFC that teaches seniors how to do the basics on a computer, including Skyping with family and friends; the goal being to combat loneliness and isolation. From what I can tell, it’s working!
There are a couple of other participants, but they were not available for interviewing at this time. To me the profiles of these women show the diverse group of people that come to SFC to dine, study, volunteer, and socialize. I encourage you to take some time to check it out and see where you might find your place. It is a wonderful place to expand your world and use your talents.
About Donna Paganello
As Nutrition Coordinator, Donna enrolls anyone 60 or older who lives in Sarasota county into the nutrition program. She's also involved in lunch reservations at the Senior Center Monday - Friday, lining up musicians during the lunch hour, facilitating socializing and teaching a nutrition related topic each month.