Pegeen Wall and Mary Marshall did a double take when they heard one another’s name announced at a recent Catholic Charities volunteer training session held in Poughkeepsie. They met decades back when Ms. Marshall, then a young mom, volunteered to teach children to swim at the local YWCA where Ms. Wall then worked as aquatic director. But this time Ms. Wall, now semi retired, was the volunteer and Ms. Marshall was the recruiter seeking help. Their professional and volunteer careers, they later learned, mirrored one another’s as they zigzagged back and forth from volunteer to staff and expanded their expertise along the way.
After their first meeting, Ms. Wall, today a grandmother of six, built a successful career in public relations and fund raising for nonprofit organizations while volunteering on a variety of boards and committees. Meanwhile Ms. Marshall, a former IBM employee, volunteered as president of a local nursery school board, Parent-Teacher Association, garden club and more before volunteering at Catholic Charities in Ulster County in 1990. She joined the agency staff in 1993 and has since worked her way up to her current position as Director of Catholic Charities Community Services in Poughkeepsie.
Now this social service agency is in the midst of a major drive to tap into volunteer expertise so that it can enhance and expand services offered. Ms. Marshall has taken a leadership role in the effort in Poughkeepsie by drawing on expertise she developed working with and as a volunteer.
“We want to make sure we honor people who are generously giving their time,” Ms. Marshall said as she took a quick break from a monthly volunteer orientation and recruitment session in Dutchess County. “Instead of fitting people into narrow volunteer positions, we let them bring who they are and match them with what they have to offer.”
For Ms. Wall, this means the opportunity to do hands-on volunteer work by greeting clients, taking intake information and referring clients to Catholic Charities staff for help.
“I volunteered on boards and committees before but this has been an eye opener,” Ms. Wall said. “I hadn’t expected the caliber, education and gratitude of people needing help,” she added, “and I’m impressed by the professional, gracious staff here that goes over and above in their efforts to serve.”
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