Green Mountain RSVP Volunteer, Roger Blake
Roger Blake, a resident of Norwich, Vermont, is a person who does not like the limelight, but inspite of that, this spring he was presented with the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Community Service. He is dedicated to causes he believes in, and as a volunteer he puts great amounts of energy and time into those causes. He is a role model for excellence in volunteering! A dedicated RSVP volunteer, Roger has worked tirelessly for his beloved community. He brings such a variety of skills to any task he tackles! A native of West Lebanon, New Hampshire, Roger, his wife, Ellen, and their two children moved to Norwich 26 years ago. For 30 years Roger worked in automotive repair, and owned his own garage in White River Junction for 20 years.
Giving back to his community is the main motivation and focus of Roger’s volunteer endeavors. For several years, Roger volunteered with the Hartford Public Schools through a school to work program that allowed students to shadow workers in his garage. The students learned valuable skills of car repair and maintenance. Roger does not want praise, and special recognition, but rather wants to be known as that “go to” person in the community when someone is in need of help with any odd job from gardening to home repairs, to painting, and more. He said, “I just want to help where I am needed. If someone needs a deck washed, or any other odd job, I want to be the one people feel comfortable asking because they know I will be there to help out.” He does this because he truly cares, pure and simple! He is a “Jack of all Trades”. There is nothing he can’t fix, and no problem he can’t solve. As an RSVP volunteer, Roger has given his time on a myriad of tasks. He loves the outdoors, and volunteers his time doing landscaping work on the Norwich Public Library grounds, as well as maintaining trails at the Montshire Museum. He had volunteered on the grounds of Norwich Senior Housing. Maintaining the walking trails in the town of Norwich is a great pleasure of his, and it matters greatly to him that the trails are safe for people to use.
Roger was a member of the Board of Directors for the Norwich Historical Society for several years putting hundreds of hours into projects and events.
One particular project was a huge town yard sale that he chaired to benefit the historical society. It was a very prosperous fund raiser, and took hours of time. Roger actually took part in every aspect of the sale. He advertised for items to be donated, went to peoples’ homes to pick up donated furniture and other items, engineered setting everything up at the yard sale site, then helped sell the items. He truly has been a selfless, dedicated worker, and a true team player. Roger also served on the board of directors for the Norwich Senior Housing for six years. Most recently, he served for three years on the Norwich Board of Selectmen. It was serious work, and took a great deal of knowledge, effort, thought and commitment.
The hours he spends working for his town give him pleasure. He is a true community person, and an outstanding RSVP volunteer. Thank you, Roger, for all you do!
Green Mountain RSVP Volunteer, Richard Gorton
Richard Gorton has been an RSVP volunteer for 25 years, and this spring he was honored to receive the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Community Service. He is a committed, dedicated volunteer who has given thousands of hours of service. He has worked tirelessly for Meals on Wheels, as a driver, server, and Advisory Board member. For years he designed and made wooden toys painting them with bright colors, and donated them to the Springfield Santa Claus Club so that unfortunate children received toys at Christmas. He made cutting boards and bird feeders for Habitat for Humanity fund raisers for 20 years. He also is an active member of the Springfield Senior Center, volunteering hours of time in fixing things, and is known as “Sir Richard” in various shows and performances at the center. In 2008 he was named Senior of the Year by his peers at the Senior Center. He is dedicated to giving back to his community through volunteer service
Green Mountain RSVP Volunteer, Marilyn Lubeck
Marilyn Lubeck has been an RSVP volunteer for so long that her original registration form is typed rather than computer generated. She joined RSVP in September of 1984 and is about to turn 90 years old on March 23rd. In spite of having had a knee replaced last year and subsequently breaking that same knee, she is full of energy; has a great sense of humor and still marvels at life and all that goes on around her.
She was born in New Orleans and grew up on Staten Island, NY before any bridges were connected to the mainland. She remembers taking a ferry to go grocery shopping in Manhattan. She also recalls ice being delivered to their home by a horse and wagon. Many of her neighbors were first generation Americans, so she heard lots of different languages as a child and has fond memories of the delicious Italian food being cooked all around her.
She and her husband came to Bennington in 1984 because they had visited their artist son in Vermont for years and it only seemed right that they should live here in retirement. Not long after settling into an historic home on Main Street, she joined RSVP and found it to be the very best way to meet interesting people and help others at the same time.
Her RSVP volunteer experiences are many and varied and she is not done yet. She was a Peer Counselor for many years for the Council on Aging. This volunteer job required intensive training after which she was assigned two homebound elders whom she visited each week. As a docent at Park McCollough House, she gave tours and told visitors about the history of its illustrious occupants, the Park and McCollough families. For many years she volunteered at the Department of Health as a receptionist and helped them with Flu and Well Child Clinics. She taught adults to read at the Tutorial Center, and served on the board of the Council on Aging. To assist Green Mountain RSVP, Marilyn joined our Advisory Board and has chaired the Recognition Luncheon Committee for the past seven years.
Not long ago we announced a new program in our newsletter called TeleCare. Volunteers will go through a training session and then be given the name and phone number of a homebound person to call several times a week just to let them know that someone is thinking and caring about them. The first person to sign up for TeleCare was none other than Marilyn Lubeck. Most folks at age 90 would opt to be called, but not our Marilyn.
Green Mountain RSVP Volunteer, Joyce Guerard
Joyce Guerard lives on Devil’s Way, just off of Heaven’s Way in North Bennington, but her dedication to volunteering has certainly moved her over to Heaven’s Way, at least in the spiritual sense. Joyce began her volunteer career just 5 years ago following the death of her husband. She knew she needed to get out of her house, but shyness kept her from exploring the possibilities that were just beyond the perimeter of the family compound where she, her sister and two nephews each have their own homes.
Fortunately a well meaning friend gave her the paperwork to join Green Mountain RSVP and volunteer at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. It took her a very long time to fill them out and drop them off. A phone call from the volunteer coordinator at the hospital was all it took to get her in the door. That call opened up a whole new world to Joyce. She was trained to be a Red Cross hospital volunteer and sat at the front desk giving directions and wheeling discharged patients and new babies to their cars to go home. When those tasks became comfortable and she got to know her co-workers, she branched out to the VA Clinic where she worked for years in their office. Joyce also started working at the Red Cross Blood drives making sandwiches for the donors.
She’s happy to say, “Call me at the last minute. I don’t mind.” Those are wonderful words to hear if you are the one trying to fill a spot vacated suddenly. It’s Joyce who is often volunteering on weekends, when others are less than enthusiastic about working on those days.
She discovered that Green Mountain RSVP delivers knitted and crocheted items to people in need during the holidays, so she began to knit up a storm. Her handwork is exquisite and she comes into the office faithfully each month with a bag full of hats, mittens, lap robes and scarves.
In the five short years since Joyce joined RSVP she has served over 5,000 hours. It turns out that giving to others not only gets her out of the house, but also gives her a wonderful sense of fulfillment.
Green Mountain RSVP Volunteer Lois Thompson
Lois Thompson, a retired nurse, heard about the Bone Builders program four years ago and decided these strength-building exercises to improve bone density and ward off osteoporosis would be good for her, and good for her community. There was no class in Lois’s senior housing neighborhood of Melrose Terrace, West Brattleboro, so Lois applied to take the Bone Builders leader training and start a new class.
Four years later, Lois’s class is going strong, with several participants still actively engaged in their 90’s. Not willing to rest there, Lois has started other health classes for her friends and neighbors, too.
Her Bone Builders’ class, free to all and sponsored by Green Mountain RSVP, meets every Tuesday and Thursday. On Mondays and Wednesday, Lois leads a breathing and chair-aerobics group of her own creation.
As her Bone Builders’ members stepped up the activity level of their exercises, Lois felt the class might be too challenging for some of the new people wanting to join. So Lois started a class for the freshmen, until they were ready to join the main group.
Lois finds novel and humorous ways to keep her class motivated. After the first and second years, each member gets a certificate of achievement. On the third year, they get a dog-bone magnet. She sometimes switches to counting the exercise repetitions in French or Spanish to keep things interesting. Everyone is made to feel welcome in Lois’s class. Participants are invited to share family news, discuss a medical situation, or an article of interest they have read. If grandchildren are visiting, they are welcome to attend so the grandparent doesn’t miss a class.
The emphasis of the Bone Builders program is on maintaining health, strength and bone density through the later decades of life. Two years ago, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital invited Lois’s class to demonstrate their exercise prowess at the hospital’s annual health fair, a popular event that draws hundreds of visitors. Looking nimble as they went through their weight exercise routine, they jokingly scolded the announcer as they left the performance stage: “You didn’t mention that three of us are aged over 90!”
Lois has helped to develop the Bone Builders program in Windham County by sharing her experience and knowledge with new volunteer leaders. And her community service extends beyond her Bone Builders commitment. She helps put on community lunches, takes part in volunteer mailings for area non-profit organizations, serves on the volunteer recognition committee of Green Mountain RSVP, and works with children in an AmeriCorps after-school arts and crafts program. Her friend and class member Doris Watkins summed up: “Lois makes sure that it’s done, and that it’s good and enjoyable for all.”
Green Mountain RSVP Volunteer Dorothy Pollard
Dorothy Pollard has been a committed volunteer in the Brattleboro area her entire life. She has served the young and the aged with equal devotion. Now, at 91 years of age herself, Dorothy is still an active community volunteer. The challenge in presenting a full record of Dorothy’s community service is that her volunteering in earlier decades predates the recall, and even the records, of many. For example, Dorothy had spent years volunteering at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital before the current volunteer coordinator began work there — 19 years ago. But there are plenty of people to testify to Dorothy’s invaluable, selfless service to the community.
“Dot is petite in stature, but a giant in giving,” said Betty Stacey, administrator at First United Methodist Church of Brattleboro where Dorothy still brings contributions for the food shelf and greets parishioners on Sunday.
At Dummerston School, long-serving administrator Stella White recalls that Dorothy’s volunteering kept the school running smoothly for almost two decades. “Dorothy was doing the work of a paraprofessional, or teacher’s aide, before those positions were common,” said White. “She read with the children who needed extra help, and she worked with the kids who were exceptional.” In 19 years of volunteer service at Dummerston School, Dorothy “did whatever needed doing,” said White. “She corrected papers for the teachers. She did all the copying. She transitioned us from mimeographs to the copying machine. And in all those years, she never missed a day of work.”
In 25 years of service with Green Mountain RSVP in Windham County, Dorothy has volunteered at the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center, worked for the Brattleboro Area Community Land Trust and given rides to medical appointments to many, notably for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
At Brattleboro Senior Meals, where Dorothy has served for years as a volunteer receptionist and cashier, executive director Chris McAvoy said of Dorothy, “She is always reliable, and always willing to help.” We are fortunate to be able to call Dorothy Pollard and RSVP Volunteer.
Green Mountain RSVP Volunteer Barbara Parker
Barbara Parker is a no-nonsense, extremely disciplined person who has demonstrated an exemplary volunteer work ethic. She is straightforward, extremely friendly, versatile, and has been dedicated to her community her whole life. Barbara has lived in Springfield, Vermont for the past 69 years. She and her husband, Bob, raised six sons, an amazing feat in itself. She worked for a time at Fellows Gear Shaper and Johnson & Dix, but her main career was raising her family. When her boys were grown, Barb plunged head first into a life of volunteer service.
Barbara has been an RSVP volunteer for the past 16 years, and has served her beloved Springfield long before that. The myriad of activities she has chosen to participate in, and the countless hours of service she has performed, shows that giving to others has been her focus. She is embarrassed by the thought of a special acknowledgement for all she does, but she truly deserves to be recognized. Barbara is a perfect example of an everyday hometown hero who goes about her business, all the while making great impact, in a very subtle, unassuming way.
Barbara has been a member of the Springfield Lions Club for 15 years, and was the first female inducted into this chapter. She was also the first female president of the chapter. Fundraising in order to give back to the community is a major function of the Lions Club. Barb has worked tirelessly on every single event. She has a special affection and dedication to her church where she is a Catholic Daughter, and serves meals to the needy at the church hall every holiday. Barb has served as a Donor Aide at American Red Cross Blood Drawings for 15 years. She is a driver for the Vermont Association of the Blind, transporting individuals to doctors’ appointments, and to stores to shop, thus helping certain blind individuals to be able to live alone, and remain independent. She has also driven for the Council on Aging, and delivered hot meals as a driver for the Meals on Wheels program. Serving as a waitress at the Meals on Wheels congregate site, she never says no when called upon. Barbara has been involved in literacy in the schools, as a Reading Partner, a Pen Pal, and as a school Library Aide. She was on the Board of Directors of the Springfield Friends of the Library, and worked on numerous book sales, which, alone consumed hours of time. She takes the time to get to know everyone around her, and everyone in town knows Barbara.
Barb has keen office skills, so she has volunteered to do data entry at a local mental health facility, the Springfield Alumni Association, and Green Mountain RSVP. She is so versatile, that she easily fits in at any site, and adjusts to the task at hand.
Barbara is multi talented. She knits beautiful lap robes for hospitals and nursing homes. She takes pride in trying different patterns to make the blankets as attractive as they can be.
Barb has helped the Habitat for Humanity and the Muscular Dystrophy Association with special fundraising events. The list goes on and on. What makes her so special is that she has been a consistent, constant, unwavering presence in her community giving back with methodical, steady volunteer efforts. Her consistency has made impact. Her volunteerism has positively affected so very many people. Barbara exemplifies the spirit of giving back to her community.
Green Mountain RSVP Volunteer Molly Ferris
Molly Ferris is an extremely bright, unique, colorful lady with a rich history of giving back. She is a sixty – year veteran of amateur theater. She has a wonderful sense of humor, is compassionate, positive and caring. She has a passion for literacy and is dedicated to serving others. Molly has a visible presence in her beloved town of Chester. She is very humble, and does not feel she deserves recognition, but she surely does!
Molly was not raised in Vermont, but says when she moved here years ago, she knew she was destined to be here. She embraced Vermont; bought land in Chester; decided to construct a yurt, and has resided there ever since. She cares so deeply about the environment. Having lived in several other places, Molly states that Vermont is the best place on Earth! She and her husband raised four children. She was a teacher, by profession, for twenty-five years. She owned a Montessori school, and later was a houseparent, math tutor and bus driver for the American Boys Choir School in Princeton, New Jersey. Her volunteerism goes back years. Her passion for literacy and love of theater arts and performing spans decades. She has brought joy to thousands of people as a volunteer amateur actress. She has devoted years of service in schools, libraries and prisons promoting and teaching reading and library skills.
An RSVP volunteer for twelve years, she has brought a unique perspective to volunteering. She sees the absolute best in everyone. Molly never misses an opportunity to find that teachable moment. Her love of children led her to volunteer as a lunch mentor in area schools for several years. She feels that since they are our future, they deserve the very best support in life. The children she served usually had no other adult who took a personal interest in their well-being.
Molly served as a volunteer Reading Partner in the Chester schools, where she fostered the love of reading, and provided enrichment for children who never got extra reading help at home. She has an extremely calming effect on the children and adults she serves. Her smile lights up a room. Molly volunteered as a reading tutor in local prisons, and for her, it was so gratifying to know that she helped many incarcerated individuals learn to read, and be able to read to their children. She loves working in libraries, as the knowledge gained there can open unimaginable doors. She will do any task that has to be done, and needs very little direction. She truly is a “pro” with years of rich experience. She has given hours upon hours at the Whiting Library in Chester, and most recently at the Union Street School Library in Springfield. Green Mountain RSVP applauds Molly Ferris.
Green Mountain RSVP Volunteers Tom and Dorothy DePollo
Tom and Dottie DePollo’s are many since they retired and began giving back to their community in Bennington, VT. Wherever there is a need, the DePollo’s are always there. They work each year at the MS Walk handing out refreshments to the walkers. They deliver books to day care centers every month for the Bennington Library, so that the children will have a constant supply of new and varied reading material and learn the love of books. Dottie knits and donates her work to nursing homes and to children who need warm hats and mittens. Tom is a volunteer fireman in Bennington and clocks in about 30 hours a month protecting local citizens. Dottie washes baby clothes donated to the CareNet Pregnancy Center serving young single mothers who have new responsibilities and need some guidance and support. They both donate time each month boxing up food at HIS Pantry, a food shelf at their church that serves anyone who is in need. That need has increased lately, and Tom and Dottie were there at an RSVP “Stuff the Bus” event held at a local supermarket on Martin Luther King Day. Food was donated by shoppers and then “stuffed” into a bus parked outside the store to be delivered later to area food shelves from Arlington to Pownal, VT. They helped collect the food on a Friday and then organized it for delivery the following Monday.
Several years ago, Tom and Dottie, along with their daughter who is a dedicated parent of an elementary school student, created a science program for local elementary schools called the Elf Project. Tom and Dottie visited the school each week and shared science projects with the students, creating an easy and fun way for kids to learn about science. They did this for two years in the spring and influenced many young students to have a greater love for the mysteries of science.
The DePollos stand out in their community for their unselfish giving wherever there is a need. They are very fulfilled by their volunteer work and the experience has made their retirement years far richer than they ever imagined.
Green Mountain RSVP Volunteer Bob Cole
Bob Cole moved to Bennington in 1972 when Stanley Tools transferred him up here from Newark, NJ. It was a perfect opportunity for him, as he had been commuting 60 miles a day from his home in New Brunswick, and Newark wasn’t exactly an inviting city. He and his wife settled in Shaftsbury and were glad to have left the “rat race” behind. He retired 9 years later from his personnel job, and started volunteering right away. He drove for the American Red Cross and worked as an AARP Tax Aide for 12 years. When his wife became ill, he cut back his volunteer hours to care for her, and remained her caregiver for 6 years until her death. She was of Hungarian decent, and he will forever miss her superb Hungarian cooking.
In 2,000 he was ready to get out of his house and back on the road helping others. He loves listening and talking to people, so driving for the American Cancer Society and the Vermont Association for the Blind were the perfect volunteer jobs for him. At age 92, he has clocked over 30,000 miles driving patients to and from their doctor’s appointments. He is saddened by all the losses he has seen over the years with his cancer patients, but is impressed by their courage and positive attitudes. As most volunteers say, he gets far more out of helping them than they can possibly derive from their rides with Bob. In December he finished a 3- year term on the Board of Directors of the Council on Aging. It was interesting to him to see how this non-profit was run and the clever ways they were able to keep their funding in order. This was a constant concern for the staff that worked hard to keep their programs in force and their elderly clients living independent lives. It doesn’t appear that Bob is in any hurry to “retire” from his volunteer work. He’s more than willing to consider additional assignments as long as they include getting to know others and doing something for them that they can no longer do for themselves. He’s thrilled to be a “Vermonter” and can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Green Mountain RSVP Volunteers Bob and Lucille Evens
Lucille and Bob Evens reside in Cavendish, Vermont. They moved here from Fort Ann, NY in 1992. After retirement, Bob and Lucille joined RSVP and began volunteering their time at various non-profit agencies, as well as numerous other projects over the past eleven years. They are remarkably dedicated. During their eleven years as RSVP volunteers they have contributed so much time and energy to helping others. They never say no when asked to help, no matter what the situation. They are truly selfless, and are outstanding role models for volunteers everywhere. Both Bob and Lucille take volunteering very seriously, and their promptness, generosity, impeccable work ethic and attention to detail are second to none! In 2006 they both received the Ludlow Rotary Club’s Community Service Award and it’s no wonder why!
Lucille has volunteered in so many different arenas. She spent four years as a library aide at the Cavendish Fletcher Community Library, and as a reader to children at the Cavendish Town Elementary School. She was a driver for the Meals on Wheels Program in Springfield, as well as a helper with clients’ paperwork for the Council on Aging. More recently, she has been a CRT driver who brings patients to medical appointments. She also shops and runs errands for those who cannot get out themselves. In addition, Lucille does household chores for those unable to do so. She has participated in Friendly Visiting at the Gill Home and in individuals’ homes. Lucille has worked on several RSVP mailings for various organizations. For the past three years, she has served on our Green Mountain RSVP Recognition Luncheon Committee, giving hours of her time helping to plan and execute the event. Each year she has personally made and donated unique decorations for the occasion.
One of her current assignments is keeping tally of grocery receipts forourShaw’s Rewards Program fund raiser. She always goes above and beyond what is asked of her and she does so with a smile. In fact, Lucille is always asking what else she can do to help. She is quiet and reserved, and does not seek the credit she so greatly deserves.
Bob also spends most of his waking hours volunteering. He is currently on the Board of Directors of Black River Good Neighbors in Ludlow. He serves as Treasurer, but he does so much more. He is a problem solver who helps this organization with computer issues, and is in charge of maintaining the physical plant of Good Neighbors. He is literally “on call” all the time. Bob serves as Chairman of the Cavendish Fletcher Community Library Board of Directors, Chairman of the Fletcher Farm Foundation Board of Directors, and Chairman of the Cavendish Fire District #2 Prudential Committee. Bob sits on the Green Mountain RSVP Advisory Board, and has been a member of the RSVP Recognition Luncheon Committee for the past three years. He has helped with RSVP mailings. Bob’s calm demeanor, diligent perseverance, and positive attitude make him such an asset to any
organization, as well as the entire community.
Green Mountain RSVP is so very fortunate and proud to have these two amazing, community minded people as volunteers. They embody the true volunteer sprit, and through their actions, spread kindness, caring and help so many others. Lucille and Bob Evens epitomize “service above self.” Thank you Lucille and Bob
Green Mountain RSVP Volunteer Maria Contro
Maria Contro is a model volunteer. She is kind, caring, open-minded, non-judgmental, dedicated, determined, and extremely positive. Her abundant contributions to her community have set high standards of excellence in volunteerism. She has lovingly given 10,600 hours of service for RSVP and her community. A native of Italy, Maria came to Massachusetts when she was 3 years old. She later worked for Smith & Wesson for 17 years. She has resided in Chester,Vermont for the past 22 years. In 2000, she won the Ms.Vermont Pageant.
For fourteen years, beginning in 1995, Maria has been an RSVP volunteer in Windsor County. In that time, she has demonstrated tireless energy while participating in a myriad of volunteer service activities such as creating children’s summer programs for the Springfield Family Center, working on special programs at Chester/Andover Elementary School, Riverside Middle School in Springfield, Cavendish Fletcher Memorial Library in Cavendish and the LEAP after school program in Springfield. She was Chairman of the Green Mountain RSVP Advisory Board (5 years), working diligently on fundraisers, mailings, and special events. Maria’s talents led her to sing and play the drum as a Songster at the Springfield Senior Center. As a part of that group she travels to nursing homes to bring entertainment to residents who wait in anticipation for the wonderful show they will see.
Maria continues to work at American Red Cross blood drives in Chester, as well. Although Maria has been an incredible inspiration in all of the above activities, there is one program that she has dedicated 10 years of her time to. The program is Meals on Wheels, official name-Meals & Wheels of Greater Springfield. Maria has been a hands-on pioneer of this program for the past 10 years. She has given hours and hours of her time as a driver of meals, a hostess at the congregate meal site 3-5 days a week, and as Advisory Board Chairman. She has also been a Board member on the Board of Directors for Meals on Wheels. She took on the role of Treasurer of the Board several years ago.
Maria has a unique quality of making everyone around her feel special. She believes so wholeheartedly in this program that she will do anything to see that it continues to succeed. Along with working with other volunteers and staff on the Annual Appeal, which raises thousands of dollars for Meals on Wheels, she almost single-handedly raises hundreds of extra dollars by selling poinsettias in December, and Easter lilies in spring, as well as selling ads for a place mat campaign. She does not want a computer, but rather keeps all records by hand. She has the “old school” belief that hand-written thank you notes are important, and should be written for a number of different occasions. In this day of technology and emails, it is refreshing to see her beautiful handwriting displayed on these notes. She has often done up to 100 hand written notes after a fundraiser, and takes pride in them.
Maria has directly impacted so many Vermonters by finding ways to make the program sustain itself, and grow. Meals on Wheels is such a vital program that fills an ongoing need in the community. Within the past six months Meal on Wheels has realized a dream of finding unshared space for the daily Congregate Meal program in Springfield. Maria’s vision was largely responsible for this this. The program moved out of a church space, a few months ago, and into another building. Maria worked diligently for this to happen. The space has been painted and decorated by a number of excited volunteers. These volunteers were inspired by Maria to get involved in this project.
A huge gift to RSVP has been the way Maria recruits her peers to volunteer. She has recruited 15 new volunteers for Meals on Wheels and other RSVP programs. That is the most powerful way to get people involved. Maria is truly a special person, and a remarkable volunteer, who has many gifts of the heart that she readily shares.