Volunteers' worth locally: invaluable

Nonprofits praise unpaid helpers as they are celebrated nationally
Apr. 07, 2014 @ 06:30 PM

Right now, men and women throughout Lee County are preparing meals for the hungry, tutoring children in a difficult subject and providing resources to those in need.

It's National Volunteer Week, and nonprofit leaders have expressed their thanks and need for volunteers throughout the county.

“We couldn't get along without volunteers,” said Kendra Martin, VolunteerLee.com coordinator, a United Way of Lee County website dedicated to connecting nonprofits to volunteers. “They do so many things that might otherwise fall through the cracks. There are so many organizations in Sanford and Lee County that rely on volunteers.”

People who give up their time to help others are immensely important to their organizations themselves, but also to the community, she said.

“For a town the size of Sanford, we have a great many people who do give back everyday and make Lee County a better place for all of us to live,” Martin said.

Local United Way Director Jan Hayes added that the estimated value of a volunteer hour is $22.14.

“Our nonprofits literally could not operate without volunteers,” Hayes said. “They just couldn't accomplish their good work without volunteers.”

Christians United Outreach Center of Lee County Executive Director Teresa Kelly said her organization has more than 300 volunteers, including more than 200 who volunteer more than 10 hours a week. A majority of them, she said, also contribute at other organizations.

“We couldn't get the job done without our volunteers,” Kelly said. “It's a great way to be involved with your community.”

Communities in Schools of Lee County Executive Director Heather McKenzie said the organization benefits from more than 300 volunteers, but more are always needed.

“I tell everyone that this community has such a big heart,” she said. “… Sometimes it is easy to write a check, but it takes a lot of heart and soul to volunteer your time.”

Volunteers are essential to the health care provided at Central Carolina Hospital, said CCH Director of Volunteer Services Crystal Hickman. Volunteers work in nearly every department of the hospital, as well as the gift shop, and provide spiritual support to patients through pastoral aid.

“There are lots of organizations that couldn't survive without them,” she said. “It's amazing how many people in Lee County are willing to use their time to help others.”

Janice Holmes, volunteer services coordinator for the Lee County Enrichment Center, said all of her volunteers demonstrate a willingness that is not only needed, but admirable.

“There are a lot of folks who I know I could call them, and they'd be here (to help),” she said.

Two local volunteers — Kaye Hall Cummings and Timothy Luke Fowler — will be recognized with a state award at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Enrichment Center, located at 1615 S. Third St. The Governor's Volunteer Service Award honors people who have shown concern and compassion for their neighbors by making a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service.