Why do I like to volunteer?” said Ruth Hart, a person who has served on any number of boards and been active in many causes through her church and a multitude of community-based initiatives. “It is fun to work with other people. I learn so much. The work needs to be done and someone has to do it. You enjoy it, that’s the bottom line, otherwise you wouldn’t do it.”
On Saturday, local officials, along with members of the community organizing committee, celebrated National Volunteer Week through a tree planting in Peacock Park and a reception held at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts to honor five adult and three youth finalists, and announce the Lake Placid-North Elba Volunteers of the Year.
National Volunteer Week began in 1974 when President Richard Nixon signed an executive order establishing an annual celebration of volunteering. Since then, every U.S. President has signed a proclamation promoting the week. National Volunteer Week was celebrated May 1-7 in North Elba and Lake Placid.
Nationally more than 63 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2009 and September 2010, according to a recent survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That represents more than a quarter of the entire U.S. population. Locally, there is not a single event that does not take place without volunteer help. Whether it is the food pantry based at St. Agnes, the multitude of events presented by ORDA, major economic drivers such as Ironman and the Horse Show, the many events presented by the cultural organizations, or initiatives to support our youth by the Connecting Youth and Communities Coalition, the Thomas Shipman Center, and Kiwanis, volunteers are vital to their success.
All those nominated have made significant contributions.
In the Youth Division:
¯High school senior Brady Hayes volunteers with the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department, I Love BBQ Festival, Village Clean-up, Lake Placid Plunge for a Cause and the Lake Placid School Store; Scott Pedu volunteers with the Lake Placid Marathon, Ironman, Lake Placid Loppett, Empire State Games, Books for Babies, Boy Scouts, Holiday Food Basket and Village Clean-up
¯High School senior Emily Sheft helps with the Village Clean-up, Ironman Triathlon, Lake Placid Environmental Concession and Lake Placid Center for the Arts giving nearly 600 hours of their time between them.
In the Adult Division:
¯Nancy Beattie volunteers for the Adirondack Mountain Club, St. Eustace Episcopal Church as greeter, Alter Guild director, coffee hour hostess, Outreach Committee Chair, stewardship committee, Sunday School teacher, Jr. and Sr. Warden and Vestry of the Church.
¯Liz Defazio has focused on serving youth through the Shipman Youth Center, Skating Club of Lake Placid, Lake Placid-Wilmington Connecting Youth to Communities and Hard Times & Heroes.
¯Bob Jones provides transportation for people to and from church and medical appointments, delivers medications to those who can’t get out to pick them up, assists at the Ecumenical Charities Thrift Shop and Food Pantry and is an usher at the Adirondack Community Church.
¯Pat Jorgensen manages hundreds of volunteers for the Skating Club of Lake Placid and ORDA events, founded and runs the Lake Placid School Backpack program for kids, is establishing a Community Lunch Box program, and donates all manner of baked goods for a wide variety of causes. Meanwhile,
¯Priscilla Pascarelli supports the Lake Placid Nutrition Program, the Essex County Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Meals on Wheels, and Holidays for Sharing Program, and uses her knitting skills to create and donate hats, mittens, scarves and other items.
“This event is important because it helps us get the word out that nothing a person contributes is too small, and that people appreciate the contributions made by volunteers,” said Volunteer Committee member Johnny Muldowney, Jr.
“We want to recognize a person who contributes across the board, not to just one sport or special interest — a person who contributes to the community as a whole,” said committee member Kathy Pfohl. “Our community needs volunteers. It couldn’t work without them.”
“The community wouldn’t be the community it is without all the volunteers,” said ROOST CEO Jim McKenna.
“I love helping others,” said Bob Jones. “I have been blessed. I am happy to give back to those who haven’t been as blessed as me. I do it just for the satisfaction of being able to help others.”
“This is about people helping people, and we certainly need help with all the natural and manmade disasters in the world today,” say Danny Allen, Olympic Center general manager.
“I think of volunteering as therapy for me,” said nominee Priscilla Pascarelli, who previously suffered a stroke. “Volunteering helped bring me back from my stroke much faster than the doctors ever expected. I used my time and talents to help others.”
“I love people,” said Pat Jorgensen. “I get much more out of it than I put in. I couldn’t do what I do without all the volunteers that help me. The volunteers are my extended family. People in this town are great, just great. This is a wonderful town to live in.”
“These people, nominated and honored, are being recognized for being the very best of the many people who volunteer,” said Town Supervisor Roby Politi just before giving out the awards. “You make Lake Placid special.”
“You are the life blood of Lake Placid,” said Mayor Craig Randall. “Lake Placid is one big family where everybody is committed to each other. You reflect that spirit of community.”
“I feel good,” said Pat Jorgensen after receiving her award as Volunteer of the Year. “I don’t really need an award for doing something good, but it is nice to be acknowledged.”
“I volunteer because it is fun to do,” said Brady Hayes, winner of the Youth Volunteer of the Year. “It is nice to help out so I do it. I love it.”
“I am proud of him,” said Brady’s grandmother Mija Hayes. “Real proud.”