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Volunteers' takes on giving back

Created date

March 31st, 2009
Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it s the only thing that ever has." This month, millions of such citizens will be honored during National Volunteer Week (April 19 25). Many Baltimore area residents have already been recognized for their efforts. Lifelong volunteer Dorothy Glackin finds volunteering to be a prescription for feeling good. "You get much more back than you give. When you re volunteering, you re not thinking about your own problems," says Glackin, who lives at Oak Crest, a community by Erickson in Parkville. "At the moment, I m writing to a third, fourth, and fifth grader," says Glackin, referring to her participation in a pen pal and reading program with local elementary schools. "We write about anything and everything. I usually end my letters with a few questions to give them something to write about the next time. Now they ve started doing the same thing. Last year, we had a chance to meet our pen pals at their school and then we invited them to Oak Crest. It s been a lot of fun!" Glackin also dedicates her time to those living in Oak Crest s health care neighborhood, Renaissance Gardens. "I go over and talk with the residents and help them get to events on campus," she says. Oak Crest Volunteer Program Coordinator Alison Krull helps volunteers find organizations that suit their interests, abilities, and schedules. "Every day, I witness our volunteers taking action sharing a smile, lending support, offering instruction, serving as a role model," Krull says. "The selflessness of these men and women is admirable, and the impact they make on the community is immeasurable." Positive influence Morton Friedenberg who lives at Oak Crest s sister community, Charlestown in Catonsville knows the impact and joy service can bring. As a social worker, Friedenberg spent his career working for Jewish community centers across the country. After he retired and he and his wife moved to Charlestown six years ago, he found a new way to give back. "I thought, We have nearly 2,000 seniors here. Wouldn t it be great for them to share their life experiences with kids and develop meaningful relationships? " he says. The result: Bridging Generations, a program where volunteers from Charlestown act as teachers aides and participate in a pen pal program with students from nearby Lansdowne Elementary. In turn, the children have performed concerts at Charlestown and handcrafted art projects for the volunteers. "Participants on both sides have gotten so much out of it," says Mr. Friedenberg. He has received multiple awards for his volunteer work and was inducted into the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in 2007. Miraculous music Fellow Charlestown resident Alice Krohn was honored last November with Baltimore County s 2008 Good Neighbor Volunteer Service Award for 40 years of volunteer service at St. Agnes Hospital in Catonsville. Krohn cochairs the hospital auxiliary s capital campaign and plays piano for cancer patients every Thursday. "Volunteering is so rewarding," says Krohn. "One afternoon at the cancer unit, a patient said to me, While you were playing, I felt no pain. That was the greatest compliment I ve ever received."