As National Volunteer Week continues through Saturday, the ladies of Gamma Pi chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha can take great pride in their philanthropic work.
From raising nearly $150,000 for Camp Riley at Bradford Woods in Martinsville to smaller amounts for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Anna’s Celebration of Life Foundation and other charities, chapter members can celebrate the powerful impact that they have had on the lives of those less fortunate.
“It brings joy to my heart to help others,” said Denise Hagerty, a 43-year member. “I love going to Camp Riley (a facility for children with physical disabilities) to watch the kids do things they have never done before: like waterskiing and rock climbing. And we volunteer at charities like Gleaners Food Bank.”
Anna’s Foundation serves children with special needs, and Gamma Pi provides support by buying the children stuff that insurance won’t cover.
The funds for Camp Riley are generated through an annual spaghetti and meat sauce dinner and a reverse raffle in February at Our Lady of the Greenwood.
“We raised $800 during the first one 35 years ago. We raised $12,000 this year,” Hagerty said. They are a lot of work. We cook all the food on-site; it’s not just heated up. It’s a good homemade meal.”
Jan Rahn, who was around for that first dinner in 1984, recalls that it took two days to get ready for it. “Every year it gets a little better and a little easier (it only takes one day). We all know what we’re doing now,” she laughed. “We are a good group of ladies that work well together. We are all there for the same reason.”
Rahn, who noted that the chapter also supports Easter Seals and Relay for Life, said she likes what her chapter stands for. “We give back to the community and have the opportunity to be of service and to help others.”
The chapter’s next opportunity to raise funds for the foundation will be at 1 p.m. Saturday when hosting purse bingo at the Sahara Grotto, 7620 Madison Ave. Tickets, $25 for 20 games, can be purchased at the door.
Terri Monaghan, a 40-year chapter member, said the foundation also benefited from a golf outing and a motorcycle ride last year.
Karen Urrutia, a member since 1976, said she joined the chapter for the philanthropy that it offered; the camaraderie has kept her there all these years. She, Hagerty, Rahn and Rozanne Robertson all are former state presidents of Epsilon Sigma Alpha, which was chartered in 1929 in Jacksonville, Texas, for the purpose of preparing its members to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world.
Between the five aforementioned members, they have 211 years of service.
Hagerty said she has no idea how many hours she has volunteered, but it’s “thousands and thousands.” Her daughter, Amanda Adams, is a member at large, and her granddaughter, Adrienne Adams, is considered an Elan, which is member who is younger than 18.
National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 and has grown exponentially each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week. People volunteer for a variety of reasons: to gain experience, acquire new skills, meet new people or expand their network of contacts as a way to get a new job or start a career. Others just want to give back to their community, help a friend or promote a worthwhile activity. They do it because it makes them feel good.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that people volunteer between 20 million and 40 million hours annually with a value between $483 million and almost $1 billion.
In the end, it’s impossible to put dollar value on volunteering. How can a monetary value be placed on ordinary people doing extraordinary things?
It can’t ... because the value of volunteerism is priceless.