Legacy of Giving
Story by Heather Shields | Nov 04, 2014
Photography by Anthony Jinson
Senior volunteers gladly lend their wisdom, talents and life experiences to others.
Most would agree that one of Jefferson City’s greatest resources is senior volunteers. These seasoned members of our community give countless hours to services and individuals in need.
“Retirees bring a fresh perspective and are a tremendous resource of talent and experience to our community,” says Ann Bax, president and chief financial officer of United Way of Central Missouri. “They [retirees] have a wisdom that comes from years of experience and are wonderful role models and mentors. They understand we all have a responsibility to give back to our community and to make it a better place to call home.
“Many of our retired volunteers were volunteers prior to retirement and simply continue in that role and, in certain instances, increase their involvement due to more available time,” she continues. “However, whether one hour a week or 10, these volunteers share a communality: They epitomize selflessness, generosity and compassion.”
Two volunteers, Ann Whaley and Harold Westhues, co-chair the “Special Givers” portion of the annual campaign. Special Givers are retirees who previously supported the United Way through payroll deduction through a workplace campaign. Whaley and Westhues reach out to those individuals who no longer have a workplace campaign due to retirement.
“United Way has wonderful stories about people in need and how they have affected and changed lives,” Whaley says. ‘It’s an easy story to tell.”
“These are special individuals,” Westhues says of the retired volunteers and donators, “as they have lived the experience and understand the issues and the needs of many.”
Take Vicki Myers, for example. Myers developed her concern for those in need by watching her grandmother and mother help others through their work. Myers has followed their paths into retirement and continues to work to make the community better for all.
“Being involved in the United Way allows me to get a better understanding of the needs of the community,” Myers says.
In addition to serving as a United Way board and committee member, Myers volunteers for various local agencies, not all of which are United Way partner agencies. Her community involvement includes Grace Episcopal Church, mentoring at Jefferson City High School, Council of Clubs, Capital Arts Gallery, Jefferson City YMCA, CASA, Girl Scouts and other service projects through Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Not all retiree involvement is serving on committees or purely fundraising. “Another one of our volunteers, Betty Mudd, is the organization’s go-to volunteer when the staff needs extra hands,” Bax says. “Knowing we can call her for just about anything is huge.”
“Since my retirement, doing volunteer work has given my life more meaning,” Mudd says. “It’s not challenging to stuff envelopes, collate materials, stamp mailings, fold T-shirts or wrap gifts. However, doing these things allows the United Way staff to concentrate on their major responsibilities of serving 27 partner agencies, programs and initiatives. It’s gratifying to realize that doing these simple tasks might truly be of service.”
Both Winston Rutledge and Walt Vandelicht have histories that include lifelong volunteerism. Vandelicht began volunteering in the 1950s by getting pledges from businesses along Missouri Boulevard, and he also helped start the United Way of Central Missouri Foundation and served as its first president. Rutledge began contributing in 1965 and started serving on committees in the 1970s. Currently, Walt serves as vice president of the United Way of Central Missouri Foundation Board of Directors, and Winston serves on fund allocation and campaign teams.
“I believe in the United Way process because, through the many agencies it services, it touches the lives of so many in a positive way,” Westhues says.
For information on how to volunteer for the United Way, visit unitedwaycemo.org.