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Volunteering: a way of life

Created date

January 29th, 2009

Dan Decker, the director of sales and marketing at Grant s Farm Manor, is who you re likely to meet as you enter the welcome center; but you can also find him at the Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club or anywhere else he can contribute.

Decker started volunteering in high school at the Harry S. Truman Restorative Center, which was then a city-owned nursing home. The first time he went, he recalls being "absolutely scared to death." But everything changed once he was inside. "Within the first ten minutes, you realize you re there to help people, and all those fears go away," Decker says. He was hooked.

"There was a time when I d always be down at the Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club on weekends," he says. "Or I d be helping out at my daughter s adoption agency, or at church or school. It s just in the Decker family to say, Sure, we want to help. "

Passing it on

For more than five years, Decker served on the Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club s board of directors. When he took his two oldest sons, Casey and Collin, then ages 12 and 10, to the club, they caught what Decker calls the "volunteer bug" and have continued giving back ever since.

Casey is now 18 and in college; Collin is 16 and a junior in high school. Each goes on a mission trip annually. "Casey has been to Mexico and New Orleans twice to help rebuild after Katrina," says Decker. "Collin has been to a small fishing village off the Bering Sea called Hooper Bay, Alaska." Decker says his sons experiences have been invaluable. "It actually makes them appreciate what they have," he explains.

Starting a new tradition

Decker has learned that his new extended "family" of priority list members those who have put down a refundable deposit to reserve their place in line for an apartment home at Grant s Farm Manor are also appreciative of what they have and often volunteer their time too.

Numerous priority list members have shared stories of their own volunteering efforts, which makes Decker excited about the opportunities that the Grant s Farm Manor "family" can participate in as a group.

Knowing that many future residents have woodworking experience, Decker envisions the Grant s Farm Manor community possibly becoming involved with the local Habitat for Humanity. Whatever opportunities they choose, Decker is open to any projects that are of interest to future residents.

"I believe that once a project gets going, it will snowball, and everyone will want to be involved," he says.

"I truly believe that when you get in that mode where you start helping each other out, it rebuilds neighborhoods; it rebuilds communities," says Decker. "Every time I volunteer and I think I might have helped somebody, I m convinced that they went out and helped somebody else. And the cycle just continues."

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