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Volunteerism helps connect people
January 17, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen From left, volunteers Barb Jolliffe, Deanna Zweifel, Jan Van Newkirk and Barb Netherland inspect some of the photo collection at North Platte Valley Museum for Puzzles of the Past.

Volunteering for a worthy cause not only helps others in need, but also helps the self-esteem of those who reach out to give of themselves.

One opportunity is through the Shopping for Seniors program, sponsored by Fresh Foods. Volunteers call around to area shut-ins and get their grocery orders, which are then packed up and delivered.

“Shopping for Seniors was initially offered to local organizations,” said Kerri Dishman of Fresh Foods. “Later it was opened up to anyone who wanted to volunteer and we’ve seen some growth in the program. It’s such a delight to deliver groceries to shut-ins. Many of them can’t get out, so they don’t see people. A volunteer can really make their day.”

She recalled a day when it happened to her. “I was having a bad day,” Dishman said. “But when I delivered some groceries, the gentleman had such a great attitude, it changed my whole day.”
The Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center also has opportunities for people to get involved. According to director Jill Allen, they still need both full-time and substitute delivery drivers for the Meals on Wheels program.

The center is also in need of people to deliver dry food commodities from the Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska warehouse to homebound clients.

“Volunteering is great for people,” Allen said. “You get to meet some really nice people while knowing you’re making a real difference in the community.”

Museums are also places that rely heavily on volunteers in order to stay in operation. That will be especially important in the near future as the North Platte Valley Museum relocates to the Farm And Ranch Museum to form the Legacy of the Plains complex.

Jack Preston of FARM said about 100 volunteers helped in 2012 to make possible special events like Hands on History and the Harvest Festival. Cleaning and receptionist duties are also important posts.

“Some of the old-time farmers volunteer their time to work on the old tractors that are part of our collection,” Preston said. “It’s like a hobby for them.”

North Platte Valley Museum is also in need of volunteers to share their expertise. Each year, local quilters put together the quilt that’s raffled in fall. Other volunteers act as museum hosts, cleaning, helping with inventories and collecting oral history interviews.
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