A very special thanks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 26, 2005

Last year, more than 250 senior citizens from across Suffolk and Franklin volunteered at 31 local organizations. Some delivered food on the Meals on Wheels program. Some helped in the Obici Hospital hospice and oncology programs. Other built Habitat for Humanity Houses, led tours of the Suffolk Museum and Riddick’s Folly, and helped out the area’s less fortunate with the Salvation Army.

On Tuesday morning, they got a special thank you. Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) hosted their 32nd annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon at Bethlehem Christian Church.

&uot;It is such a privilege to be here with so many wonderful people,&uot; mistress of ceremonies Betsy Brothers said to the audience of hundreds. &uot;You have helped so many people in so many ways. What would we do without you?&uot;

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The city would definitely have seen a dent in its finances; the volunteers logged roughly 41,700 hours of free work over the past year. At an average wage of $17.79, they saved the city about $742,500.

Volunteer advisory council vice chairman Christine Antonucci read from the work of Maya Angelou.

&uot;`I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,’&uot; she read. &uot;’People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.’

&uot;I think that’s perfect for today,&uot; Antonucci said, &uot;because the people whose lives you have touched will never forget how you made them feel.&uot;

Senior Services Executive Director John Skirven has seen this as well.

&uot;My job is to say thank you to all of you,&uot; he said. &uot;Each of us work so hard to make other people’s lives better, and it makes our lives better.&uot;

As lunch was served, volunteer Carol Mitchell and her colleagues feasted on chicken, sweet potatoes, and, in keeping with the event’s theme, &uot;Nothing is Sweeter than a Volunteer,&uot; strawberry shortcake.

&uot;We sort and stack books,&uot; Mitchell said of her duties on the Friends of Suffolk Library program. &uot;Once a month, we have a sale to raise money. I love books, and I love making them available to people. It’s a wonderful place to work, and it always makes me feel good.&uot;

RSVP coordinator Sarah Walden let the volunteers know just how sweet they were.

&uot;You play an invaluable role in our organization,&uot; she said. &uot;You pitch in whenever you’re needed. Your dedication to service is an inspiration. Your kindness makes everyone smile. Your commitment brightens our days.&uot;