By RENEE FITE
Volunteers bring support in many ways to non-profits, by performing tasks that free staff up so they can do other work, raising money for the group, and promoting the organization.
Local resident Rhonda Carr can narrow volunteer qualities down to a single thing: “all you need is a heart willing to help.”
A person can volunteer daily or weekly for some organizations, and other times seasonally, for a holiday event or fundraiser.
Two reasons usually compel Carr to say, “yes” to volunteering.
“Sometimes it’s been because there was an issue I particularly believed in. Sometimes it’s been simply because I saw a need I could fill,” Carr said.
One fundraiser she’s been fond of helping with is making tea rings with the Tahlequah High School choir, something she first enjoyed as a student.
“Actually, I helped with tea rings for the first time when I was in the THS choir myself. When my daughter was at Tahlequah Middle School and worked on tea rings for the first time, I came to Greenwood Elementary just intending to drive her home,” Carr said. “It turned out that they weren’t finished yet, so I just jumped in and started helping out where I saw a need, which at that particular time was wrapping tea rings. I enjoyed it, and I could see that there was a need for more helpers, so I came back the next week, and the next, and before I knew it I was a regular fixture on tea ring nights and the kids and Holly were calling me ‘Momma Carr.’
She especially enjoys this fundraiser because it helps the choir and allows her to participate in an activity with her children.
“I love knowing I am contributing to the success of a great organization that has enriched my life and the lives of my kids. I like being a part of my kids’ activities; it’s a way to be a little more involved in their lives and show them that I support the things that are important to them,” Carr said
The reward of helping make tea rings goes back to her youth.
“There’s a part of me that is still a choir kid at heart, so I enjoy just being around the choir. They are some of the finest kids in Tahlequah,” she said. “AWANA and Vacation Bible School are extremely rewarding because you have the opportunity to share the love of Christ with children.”
AWANA is a youth program that teaches Bible scripture, Bible lessons and includes game time and snacks.
While in elementary school, Carr started volunteering.
“I remember doing service projects back in Girl Scouts in grade school, and I started helping with VBS at church while I was still in high school,” Carr said.
Carr came to value volunteering from her parents’ example.
“My mom was a Girl Scouts and Camp Fire Girls leader when I was a kid. She also helped out with VBS at church, school fundraisers, and other projects,” Carr said. “My parents have always believed in helping out where you can.”
There are many volunteers she admires.
“I have known quite a few, but I am afraid that if I started naming them, I would miss someone important,” she said. “Volunteering improves the quality of life for the community as a whole, because any group can stretch its resources further and get more accomplished with the efforts of volunteers.”
To encourage others to volunteer their time and talents, it helps to find an organization with which they identify.
“No matter what your interests are or what you enjoy, there is a place where your talents can be used. Just find an organization or a cause that’s important to you,” Carr said.
In the past, she’s helped with her daughter’s Girl Scout troop, the Cherokee National Youth Choir (both kids are former members), the Muskogee Crisis Pregnancy Center, Oldham Memorial Baptist Church in Muskogee, and Peggs Community Church.
The Carrs are members of Park Hill Baptist Church, where she has also volunteered.
“At different times over the years I have sung in the choir, helped teach at AWANA Clubs for several years, helped out with Vacation Bible School many years, and have done other projects at various times,” Carr said. “Many of them have been groups that my kids were involved in, and they were important to me because they were important to my kids. Others were ministries within my church or affiliated with my church, and in those cases I felt called to help.”
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