“I don’t know how we would have met otherwise.” Sue Dussinger says speaking about her good friend Shelley Brosnan.  “Now we follow each other to volunteer projects.”

Volunteering has many, many personal benefits. But friendships made during volunteer activities are one of the greatest benefits…just ask Sue.

On the last Saturday of each month, these volunteers and friends gather at Ladrey Senior Residence in Alexandria where they help distribute groceries to low-income families. The project,  ALIVE! (Alexandrians Involved Ecumenically) is part of VF’s Volunteers for Changecalendar.  Besides Sue and Shelley, there are other VFCers, Jane Foster, Barbara Gartley, Pat Klenow and Michelle Shea.
These ladies obviously enjoy serving together.  They are a good team, smiling and conversing while their hands are busy performing tasks and helping clients.  Later after the work is done, the friends jump in their vehicles and head for The Sugar Shack for a well-deserved coffee and donut.  There they chat about their weekend plans and upcoming volunteer activities.

Each woman has a different life story.  There’s Jane from Indiana, Pat from Michigan and Michelle from Pennsylvania.  They have led busy lives:  Like Barbara caring for her parents and Jane working with the NFL.  Some of the ladies have children and others have pets.  But at some point—in their very unique paths–each was inspired to get involved in volunteering.  Their reasons for volunteering were also varied:   “Seeking something different.”  “Keep me from shopping.” And, “Access to opportunities.”

What they found was a world of opportunity…the opportunity to have an impact on meaningful projects like supporting women in developing nations and making lunches for the hungry; the opportunity to attend events and see shows while volunteering at Wolf Trap, Ford’s Theater and at the Library of Congress; and the opportunity to exercise leadership skills as team captain on service projects.

As they got involved in these community projects another wonderful opportunity occurred…friendships developed among these women who — though different in experience—are like-minded in their commitment to volunteerism and now to each other. “Who else is going?” they ask when discussing an activity. And, Shelley stated, “Now that we’ve made such good friendships, there is a personal commitment to each other, not just the project, because you don’t want to let each other down.”

Barbara added, “My discovery of VFC has been wonderful and the friendships made are a bonus!”

Well, the donuts are finished now and these busy volunteers and friends are off to more Saturday activities. There is alot of research about how volunteering helps the community.  But on this morning in the donut shop, the research doesn’t matter.  The friendships matter.

You’ve Got to Have Friends by Bette Midler

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