As National Volunteer Appreciation Week draws to an end, we reflect on the many things made possible at Cunningham Children's Home because of the selflessness, generosity and commitment of our amazing volunteers. Many of our volunteers have become family to us and members of our Cunningham family have become some of our best volunteers.
For nearly 33 years, Pam Mathews has given her time, talents and heart to Cunningham Children’s Home. As a teacher at Gerber, our residential education program, for 27 years, Pam not only taught our kids during the school year and summers, she also organized staff events and did things like repair clothing, glasses and jewelry for Gerber students.
"Cunningham Children’s Home has always had a special place in my heart," Pam said. "It was never a job to me; it was a commitment working towards a common goal supporting Cunningham’s mission."
Once her teaching days were over, it didn’t take long for Pam to be back at Cunningham helping with the Kendall Gill Golf Outing and other events like the Festival of Quilts and Homecoming celebrations.
"My reputation grew on campus throughout the years as ‘the one who organizes and pays attention to details’," Pam explained.
In addition to helping with events, Pam "goes to work" every week at the Spiritual Life Center where she organizes files and photos and completes other tasks for the Advancement Department.
"That started five years ago," Pam said, "and I am just as enthusiastic about volunteering now as ever before."
Volunteering has made an impact on Pam, as well. She says it gives her a sense of self-worth knowing that she is doing something to help Cunningham employees do their jobs more effectively. While Pam’s volunteer projects have changed and shifted over the years, the need for her expertise remains the same. Her attention to detail is essential with the planning and organizing of events and so is her knowledge of our agency and its history. Pam is one of the best at giving a campus tour, helping to answer questions or simply smiling, laughing and making people feel welcome.
"Even though I am no longer in direct contact with our kids, I know I have a very small but important part in helping them," Pam said," and I love telling people about Cunningham and our mission and services."
Pam’s passion for volunteering goes beyond Cunningham. She and her husband Roger, who also volunteers for Cunningham events, have both served as Sunday School Superintendents and taught Confirmation classes. Pam also continues to be part of her church’s quilting group.
During the summer, Pam can be found helping cook for the Girl Scouts Day Camp at Cole Cabin in Geneseo, Illinois. Involved with the Girl Scouts since she was a little girl, Pam is a lifetime member and her love for scouting is shared by her daughter and granddaughter who have both been active with the scouts the past 10 years.
So what advice would Pam give others who might be just starting their volunteering journey?
"Play to your talents and strengths," Pam said. "Be flexible and go with the flow because what you think you are supposed to do may change as soon as you get there. Most importantly, enjoy what you are doing. If it’s a chore, then the task may not be for you."
If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering, contact Colleen Combes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hear from some of our other amazing volunteers here.