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January’s Senior Corps-RSVP Spotlight on Service

2016 January 10

January’s Senior Corps-RSVP Spotlight on Service:

With the recent celebration of Veterans Day, we’re reminded of the service our veterans have offered to our country. Many continue to serve in their local communities through their volunteer efforts. Our January Spotlight on Service highlights two such veterans, Ed Zmuda (Navy) and Dawes Garrett (Army).  They have continued their practice of service – first to their country and now to their community by volunteering with local non-profits.

Please see the links at the end of this article for specific food pantry and food related volunteer programs that currently need volunteers.

Senior Corps-RSVP Volunteer, Dawes Garrett shares a bit about his volunteer experience at the Wheeling Township Food Pantry.dawes

Dawes served two years in the US Army, from 1961-1963, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a scary time for our country.  The military taught him how to understand what needs to be done, set priorities, and do things the right way. He used those skills in his long career in the feed business, doing in-store displays for many years.  And he still carries those same organizational and presentation skills in his volunteer work for the Wheeling Township Food Pantry.

He usually works a two hour shift on Monday mornings, organizing and displaying the incoming donations that arrive from businesses and individuals. He’s volunteered for over two years and was surprised by how many people rely on the food pantry to help feed their families. Dawes is matter-of-fact about his volunteering, “I just enjoy the people. Food keeps coming in and we enjoy the activities and the work. “

Craig Wleklinski, Wheeling Township General Assistance, is a little more vocal about the contribution Dawes makes to the food pantry:

“To watch Dawes work in the Wheeling Township Food Pantry is like watching a whirl wind of nonstop action! Dawes puts his head down, surveys the task in front of him (often a table stacked with of boxes/bags two high) and quickly breaks it down it into more manageable tasks, usually finishing his sorting by the end of his shift.

Additionally, if there is an opportunity for a large food drive to be delivered on a day when Dawes is not scheduled to volunteer he is quick to add his name for extra duty. His quick wit and good sense of humor makes him easy to work with and is a great team member.”

“It’s all true-he is a great asset to our crew.  He is a natural leader & steps up to take charge when needed,” adds Julie Villarreal, MA, Director of General Assistance, Wheeling Township.

Ed Zmuda is our second veteran and Senior Corps – RSVP volunteer to be spotlighted. He volunteers at the Sheila Ray Adult Center in Elk Grove Village. ed

Ed says he wanted to be helpful, and do something to benefit the people at the Sheila Ray Adult Center. So he began helping at the Big Band Dance Night when they needed someone to assist at the busy check-in table. Being a take-charge kind of guy, he decided to donate something to raffle each month. His first donation was a large fruit basket which everyone loved, so he continued.

He also delivers lunches for the Daily Lunch Bunch group. Ed clearly enjoys his volunteer experience: “I find it rewarding when everyone is happy that the lunches have arrived. Plus, I like being part of the family, and I love helping with the entertainment. It’s great socializing with the crowd.”

He finds it particularly satisfying when he helps with a successful Big Band Night Dance. “I’m very glad to be part of an event that brings so much to so many people, and I have fun too.”

Cindy Sortino, Sheila Ray’s Adult Center Facility Manager wrote: “Ed is always looking for ways to improve the Center. He is always promoting the Center and reaching out to other members.”

Both of these veterans display some of the characteristics that makes our country and military great: no need to be told what to do; see a need, put your head down and fill it!

We at HandsOn Suburban Chicago send a big “
thank you” to all of our Senior Corps – RSVP military veterans who continue to serve in our communities! Your sacrifice and service is appreciated.

Please contact Linda McLaughlin at to find out about the agencies currently looking for food pantry workers and other food delivery volunteers. If you can consistently volunteer once a month, you’re making a difference! Also pass this newsletter along to your friends who might be interested. Please contact Linda McLaughlin at with any questions. Here are some other agencies who currently need volunteers:



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