Tahlequah Daily Press

September 10, 2013

Retiree Freeman considers volunteering to be patriotic

Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — When people retire, some plan to make a difference as volunteers.

A volunteer might work one morning a week or one morning a month. Some even view it as their patriotic duty.

Sueann Freeman, who recently retired after 43 years of teaching, planned to volunteer at three places: Tahlequah City Hospital, the CARE Food Pantry and Feed My Sheep, which hubs at the First United Methodist Church.

“It’s something I wanted to do for me, for personal satisfaction,” Freeman said.

She started volunteering in February.

“I don’t have to get up at 6 in the morning anymore,” Freeman said.

Her daughter, Heather Foster, works at TCH as supervisor of centralized scheduling, and Freeman wanted to join the hospital auxiliary. She enjoys meeting and visiting with people.

Volunteers work half a day at a time, she said.

“It’s a chance to have my Starbucks fix every week,” Freeman said, smiling.

Freeman worked in a variety of schools before finding her niche at Talking Leaves Job Corps, where she spent 30-1/2 years.

“The students were needing something, someone to listen to them,” she said.

She found out quickly the stories she’d heard – that the kids were mean – weren’t true.

“I didn’t find that at all,” Freeman said. “I spend 30 years telling people they needed to get to know the students. In any school, there are good ones and bad ones and those in between. I was able to make a difference.”

When she opens up the TCH gift shop Friday mornings, she looks around to see what needs to be done and what’s new.

“This morning, I put out candy. We have probably the best selection in town of candy,” she said.

To be a volunteer at TCH, a person has to fill out an application. There are three areas in the hospital to volunteer: surgery waiting, admissions and the gift shop. Auxiliary members also volunteer at Remarkables downtown.

“We need volunteers,” Freeman said. “Volunteers need good people skills, are helpful, patient, smile and are ready to work.”

The last Monday of each month, she volunteers at the CARE Food Pantry because that’s the busiest week. She fills orders when people come in and takes the sacks out to them. And she helps with sack lunches.

“They need help, too,” she said.

At Feed My Sheep, held at the First United Methodist Church, she serves meals every Thursday at 6 p.m., and makes dessert when asked.

“Weekly the same people are repeats; they come every Thursday night,” Freeman said.

Volunteering keeps you busy and connected to the outside world, she said.

“Everybody needs a reason to get out, get up and get dressed,” she said.