The United States will celebrate people in action, April 21-27, as part of National Volunteer Week, and Professional Volunteers Corps in Ann Arbor is informally honoring three of its own for making volunteer service central to their lives.
National Volunteer Week is about encouraging individuals and groups to work for positive social change in their communities. Sponsored by the Point of Light Institute, the celebration was established in 1974 and has grown each year with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week.
In keeping with that philosophy, Professional Volunteer Corps offers single people the opportunity to get involved in projects that help nonprofit agencies serve the community. The group has helped Food Gatherers, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, Washtenaw Literacy, Natural Area Preservation, Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, NEW Center and many others with specific one-time projects.
Members work on volunteer projects, based on their interests, such as silent auction fundraisers, mailings, park maintenance, sorting food, clothes and toys, run and walk events, cooking and serving meals, and ushering for concert performances. It also provides group social opportunities for members.
Ann Arbor resident Crystal Heft’s belief that “I am responsible for sharing my gifts with others, offering them prospects for personal growth and lending support when needed” has been a guiding force in her life. While living in North Carolina, she became involved with the Literacy Council, tutoring basic literacy and English as a second language to Mexican students.
When she moved to Ann Arbor, Heft pursued multiple volunteer opportunities. She joined International Neighbors and now leads a weekly conversation group for international women to practice English. Her personal experience with illness and hardship drew Heft to the University of Michigan Cancer Center, where she helps patients and their families cope with the illness. Heft’s strong interest in literacy also led her to Perry Nursery School, where she assists with reading activities one morning a week.
“I joined Professional Volunteer Corps because most of my life has been centered around and structured by volunteering, mostly in one-on-one situations. As a newcomer to Ann Arbor, PVC presented a chance to meet other individuals interested in volunteer work and helped me find openings in the community,” she said.
One of her most memorable projects was handing water to marathon runners at the annual Dexter-Ann Arbor Run. “It was outside of my personal activity box,” she said of the experience.
“I am pleased about the excellent volunteer opportunities in PVC, working with dedicated members and the organization’s history of partnering with nonprofit agencies who know how to use the group’s services efficiently.”
Leigh Magnuson of Ann Arbor started her volunteer career with the Family Learning Institute tutoring elementary students in reading. She has also tutored basic literacy students for two years through Washtenaw Literacy. As a Professional Volunteer Corps member, Magnuson participates in many volunteer projects such as mailings for Peace Neighborhood, silent auctions for Washtenaw Literacy, and pulling invasive species in parks for Natural Area Preservation.
“One of the most meaningful projects for me was serving a meal at a homeless shelter. I liked the personal contact of serving dinner and assisting the Delonis Center organization,” said Magnuson, vice president of the PVC’s board.
She joined Professional Volunteer Corps to do volunteer work and meet like-minded people.
“I enjoy volunteering with a group of people. PVC has provided me with a different experience from the work I did as an individual,” she said.
Betty Tecco always has been interested in volunteer activities, serving as a room mother and classroom parent when her children were in school. She also chaperoned on class trips and helped out in their classrooms.
When she returned to the workforce full time, Tecco, an Ann Arbor resident, couldn’t commit to volunteering on a regular basis because her schedule was not consistent. While she was still working, a newspaper article about one of Professional Volunteer Corp’s activities caught her attention. Tecco kept the article and, after she retired, she began to attend the organization’s meetings.
“I remember thinking that I would enjoy belonging to such a group. I particularly liked the idea of being able to choose from many volunteer projects. The social activities were an added bonus. I also found it admirable that PVC only works with nonprofit agencies,” she said.
Her favorite volunteer opportunity was helping with Grillin’, a fundraiser for Food Gatherers.
“It’s a wonderful chance to meet others who volunteer individually and in groups,” she said. “But there are many other great projects, as well — concerts to usher, Shakespeare in the Arb, the Celtic Festival, Ronald McDonald House — the list goes on and on.”
Tecco also volunteers twice a month in the Community Kitchen at the Delonis Center, a homeless shelter serving Washtenaw County, and Mott House in the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Both commitments resulted from participating in PVC activities and learning of the need for volunteers at those nonprofit agencies.
“In all my volunteer experiences, I find satisfaction in being able to do something for others who may not have been as fortunate in their lives as I have been,” she said. “Call it a warm, fuzzy feeling. It makes me feel good. I hope to be able to continue for as long as I am able. It causes me to pause and be grateful.”
Professional Volunteer Corps holds monthly membership meetings at 7:30 p.m. on the second Friday of the month at the NEW Center, 1100 N. Main St., in Ann Arbor. At the meetings members discuss projects, conduct business and participate in social opportunities. There is an information session for prospective members at 7 p.m. before each meeting. Anyone who is single, widowed or divorced and at least 25 years of age can join. The annual membership fee is $40. For more information, visit a2pvc.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.