On May 10, 2017, OCES hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Lunch attended by over 160 guests. Recognized at the lunch were five volunteers who achieved over 4,000 volunteer hours over the course of a lifetime and who were presented the President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) by Brenda Carrens, OCES Volunteer Programs Manager, and Chris McLaren, OCES Community Programs Director.
The PVSA is an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and is administered by Points of Light. They share a mission of inspiring more to answer the call to service to better our communities and our world.
The CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in results-driven service each year; through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, the Social Innovation Fund, National Days of Service and Remembrance and other programs.
OCES could not accomplish its mission without it dedicated volunteers. Each year the Volunteer Appreciation Lunch is a modest way to thank over 600 volunteers for their service to our programs and our community.
OCES serves 1,600 meals a day as part of its Meals on Wheels (MOW) Program with the help of over 350 nutrition program volunteers who perform many tasks. Volunteers also serve on the OCES’ Board of Directors, the Money Management Program (MMP), the MMP Advisory Council, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Community Advisory Council as well as other important efforts. Over 200 RSVP volunteers help local agencies provide services, such as Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Plymouth and Brockton Public Schools Reading Program, Food Banks including South Shore Community Action Council, Veterans Services, etc. Over 50 MMP volunteers assist older adults and individuals with disabilities with bill paying, reconciling bank statements, balancing checkbooks and in special cases, negotiating debt with creditors.
Ms. Carrens reminded the audience that the Presidential recognition is a tremendous honor. Although the volunteers did not seek recognition, their example has delivered a powerful message that encourages others to take action.
These five volunteers were honored at the event, which was held at the Massasoit Conference Center: Michele Foley, Ray Viens, Gene Blanchard, Geraldine Thomson and Harry Katz (posthumously). A very brief recap of their amazing dedication follows.
Michele Foley decided to volunteer for the Plymouth Center for Active Living (COA) in 2015. She is the Medical Transportation Coordinator and she matches seniors that need rides to medical appointments with the wonderful volunteers that drive the seniors to their medical appointments. She also recruits and does outreach events. She does whatever it takes to improve the lives of seniors in her community. Michele volunteers 40 hours a week, every week.
She is also a member of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) with OCES.
Michele maintains dedication in an ever changing work environment at the COA. She assists the Volunteer Coordinator when needed, requests donations for the COA programs and many other tasks that need to be done to keep the COA up and running.
Raymond Viens, also an RSVP Volunteer, has truly demonstrated a life of service. After growing up in the town of Woonsocket, RI, Ray served first in the Rhode Island National Guard and then the Army. After coming home from the service, he married and worked in his father’s auto body shop for 10 years. During this time, Ray demonstrated his selflessness again as he worked for the volunteer fire and rescue department in North Smithfield, RI. He has now lived in Massachusetts for almost 40 years, having worked for the Town of Bellingham in the maintenance department for the school system. Ray has been a steady volunteer for Active Day of Norwell for 3 years and helps others in need every day. He has been nicknamed a “volunteer angel”. He is an instrumental part of not only the staff’s day, but also the patients who attend the adult day center, as they look forward to seeing Ray each and every day.
Gene Blanchard has been an active and dedicated volunteer for decades. A highly trained attorney, he has used his skills to serve on the Plymouth Zoning Board of Appeals, the Plymouth County Wildlands Trust Board, and the CURA Visiting Nurse Association Board. He served Duxbury on the Finance Committee for ten years. Gene is always learning and growing and is an active participant in Life Long Learning classes. He has served on the Life Long Learning Committee for several years as the chair of the L3 Committee. For the past six years he has been reading at the Talking Information Center and has also been a volunteer English tutor.
Geraldine Thomson has been an organized, detail-oriented, selfless and rock-solid volunteer for over 24 years. She was a leader in the Friends of the Scituate Library, a volunteer for the Friends of the South Shore Hospital, and served as its president. At the Duxbury Senior Center she was a member of the steering committee and was elected chair. She reorganized the registration process and created a manual that clearly defined the roles of members and the expectations of the committee. She was elected to the COA Board and served as the delegate to the Old Colony Planning Council, and was a key driver in the COA expansion plan.
Harry Katz fought tirelessly against wrongs he felt should be righted. He was one of the founding members of Congregation Shirat Hayam, the first synagogue in Duxbury. Active with the Interfaith Council for 20 years, he had served as its President and as a member at large. Harry was instrumental in having Duxbury certified as a No Place for Hate Community in 2002 and served as the co-chair for the New England Regional No Place for Hate and the Anti-Defamation League. He served as the Duxbury COA chair, loved music, loved his family, and was a tireless community builder. OCES accepted the award on his behalf.