Some years ago, when I was a member of the town’s energy committee, I accepted an invitation from the selectboard for pizza and refreshments at town hall. When I arrived on a cold January night, the room was packed with people, dozens of volunteers who were giving of their time and talents to help make this town the special place it is. We were all members of a vitally important community.
These days, volunteer opportunities abound in Charlotte. We’ve included a few elsewhere on this page. We hope to showcase volunteer opportunities in the paper on a regular basis, for which we’ll need — you guessed it — a volunteer, someone willing to put in a couple of hours a month. Interested? Contact Scooter MacMillan or 802-881-4728.
In their own words, here’s what several Charlotte volunteers have to say about the work they do, why it’s important, and the rewards they experience from volunteering.
For the past eight years I have been a volunteer mentor at the Charlotte Central School and at Champlain Valley Union High School. Our role is not to be tutors or to serve as homework police but rather to be a friend and companion. In the time we spend together we might work on projects, play games, cook or just hang out.
Over time mentors and mentees get to know each other pretty well, and that is when the magic happens. As someone in my 70s, it’s incredibly rewarding to learn about what interests and motivates young people, and even more rewarding to revisit adolescence and not have to relive it. There is nothing more exciting than seeing how a small investment in time can make such a difference in a young person’s life. I hope that anyone with at least an hour a week to spare will consider becoming a mentor.
The Charlotte Energy Committee has long had a tight-knit group of volunteers who enjoy working together. We’re all motivated to help our town reduce its carbon impact and become resilient in the face of climate change. Little by little we take actions that move the town in that direction — a bike rack and solar panel here, a grant opportunity and town project consultation there. Town committees come with administrative duties which, to be honest, are not the rewarding part of the job. But a rich and exciting assortment of improvements await being tackled, and we invite Charlotters to join us.
Tuesday afternoons I head for the Charlotte Library. For two hours, I return books to their place on the shelves. There’s such a sense of satisfaction when a book slides neatly into the right spot. It’s a cinch if you know your alphabet.
The cart’s empty. I wheel it back to the main desk. I think I’m done, but Margaret Woodruff’s left a list of books to pull for her Book Chat group the next day. I’m a kid again amongst the volumes, discovering classics I read years ago, new titles I text to myself for future reference.
The task’s a solitary one, the library peaceful, though warmly welcoming. Old friends come to search for a good read. We catch up and chat about what we’ve read recently. I meet new folks, a father with his 18-month-old … they read together, but the trucks and the miniature grocery cart are infinitely more attractive.
Since 1983, I have held a variety of volunteer positions with Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue that included serving as an EMT for 15 years and as fire chief for 20.
I have found this volunteer work to be physically, mentally, and at times, emotionally challenging, but it is incredibly rewarding assisting neighbors or strangers in dealing with often less than ideal circumstances. The men and women who I have served with at fire and rescue are some of the best people on the planet, and our town is fortunate to have them.
It has been a privilege to serve this community, and I hope I can continue to contribute for years to come.
There doesn’t seem to be a simple answer to why I volunteer. Like exercise or trying to eat appropriately, I feel better when I do it. Personally, my niche seems to be parties, gatherings around food, music and appreciation of how lucky we are to live in this community. See you at the town party and music at the beach.
Soon after retiring, I asked a friend about volunteering. His response was “join the Rotary” and I soon became a member of the Charlotte-Shelburne-Hinesburg Rotary Club. Over the years, I’ve also chopped vegetables at the Charlotte and Shelburne school kitchens, directed traffic and runners at road races in our area and worked at the Snack Shack at Shelburne’s Little League field.
I recently attended my 55th college reunion during which my class held a panel discussion on how best to navigate the changes we encounter as we age. I was very encouraged to see that volunteering with Rotary met two of the major criteria for aging successfully: regular social engagement and having a feeling of purpose.
When we moved to Charlotte as a retired couple, we knew no one in town. Then as now, the senior center was a great place to meet people with similar interests. I volunteered at Monday lunches and was soon making soups and then heading up a Monday lunch team. The thanks I receive when making a good meal or introducing a new dish that people enjoy, motivates me to do it again the next month. Seeing the same people return for every meal means this is an important social time for them.
Although I have also enjoyed volunteering at Shelburne Farms, the Congregational Church and the Clemmons Family Farm, the senior center has been my focus. As both a volunteer and member of the board, I want to make sure the center remains a welcoming place for seniors in our town.
EMT/Drivers and Firefighters
If you need an ambulance, or help putting out a fire, Charlotte Fire and Rescue will be there. But they are in urgent need of new volunteers. Emergency Medical Technicians/Drivers run 12-hour shifts assigned as a driver or an attendant on the Charlotte ambulance and must become certified in CPR and EMT Basic (a 180-hour class). Firefighters run fire calls as needed, drive fire apparatus and attend weekly trainings – once they have achieved a certification.
Time Commitment: Two, 12-hour shifts a month plus certification.
Interested? Contact Chief Justin Bliss, 802-425-3111.
Kitchen and hospitality:
The Charlotte Senior Center has several opportunities available. Hosts greet people coming into the center, answer the phones and help people register for programs. Cooking teams help cook the weekly Monday meals. Dishwashers help clean up after meals on Mondays and sometimes on other days. Program leaders head up most of the offerings at the Senior Center and many new programs are led by volunteers, with new programs often coming about by volunteers.
Time commitment: From two to six hours a week.
Interested? Contact Lori York, 802-425-6345.
Mentoring promotes one-to-one relationships between students and caring adult volunteers at Charlotte Central School and Champlain Valley Union High School. CCS students meet with their mentors on school grounds; CVU students take part in a wide variety of activities in the community. These programs are especially in need of men who are willing to volunteer.
The Charlotte News is looking for a volunteer (or two) to assemble listings for our calendar of events which is published in our paper every two weeks. This opportunity would be a good match for someone who is adventurous and curious about the many fun and interesting activities taking place in Charlotte and beyond. Guidance and training is available.
Time commitment: Up to four hours a week – you decide.
Interested? Contact Scooter MacMillan, 802-881-4728.
The Charlotte News is looking for two or three volunteers to drive to Elizabethtown, NY and back once every four weeks, late on a Wednesday night or very early on the Thursday morning. The task is to pick up 2,050 papers at our printers, and to drop them at the Shelburne post office and the Senior Center. The papers will fit in a mid-sized car. The round trip is about 120 miles and we will be happy to reimburse you for mileage, the cost of gas or electricity (if you own an EV).
Time commitment: four hours, once every four weeks.
Interested? Contact John Quinney, 802-318-7189.