By RENEE FITE
Some of the best gifts are free – and those who donate the gift of time and talent are rewarded by making a difference.
Cindy Farmer volunteers to gain a closer connection to her community.
“But more importantly, [volunteering] is a gift that is given freely, with no strings, with no expectations, but merely the ability to help someone else and know you have made a difference,” Farmer said.
Farmer was raised to believe volunteering is a civic duty. Many times as a youth, she went with an aunt to nursing homes to sing and play piano for the residents to enjoy.
“My aunt and uncle volunteered with many organizations. I was just naturally a part of whatever they were doing at the time, and grew to desire helping other people in the process,” Farmer said. “Volunteering may merely be helping one’s neighbor, or giving of your time to help a specific cause or effort.”
Farmer recently became a volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cherokee Country. CASA volunteers advocate for children who have been separated from their families by the courts. Farmer is on the board of directors, plus serves as a volunteer.
She recently coordinated a clean-up activity for youth at the CASA office.
“I want our youth to become involved in the community, and I believe in leading by example,” she said. “I think being involved also promotes awareness – not only to those volunteering, but also for those who are provided the help,” Farmer said. “That awareness increases involvement; further involvement confirms the notion that one person can make a difference as part of the whole.”
Farmer chooses her volunteer organizations according to personal interest and the mission of the group.
“Programs that help kids and our elders are close to heart for me, which is why being involved with CASA is such a blessing,” she said.
Farmer’s mentors include her aunt, Carolyn Williamson, and the late Joyce Rose.
“Joyce Rose stands out immediately. She was involved in so many organizations and gave of herself so freely. I miss her!” Farmer said. “My aunt, Carolyn Williamson, also spent countless hours helping organizations to meet established goals, as well as individuals in acquiring personal goals.”
Farmer encourages those considering volunteer work to examine their interests, and then find an organization – a neighbor, a church, or group – that seeks to accomplish goals that are in line with a person’s individual interests.
“The main quality I think a volunteer needs is the willingness to help others,” she said.
In her full-time work for the Cherokee County Juvenile Drug Court, Farmer has been busy lately educating the public about the lethal and long-term effects of synthetic marijuana, or Spice – a product sold in some stores as incense that youth and adults alike are smoking to get high.
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