FARMINGTON — The value of volunteer work was celebrated last week as nearly 100 people serving in Franklin County gathered for a potluck dinner and awards presentation at the Farmington Grange Hall.
“It was one of those grassroots recognition events that left people smiling,” said Lisa Park Laflin, executive director of the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, who, along with the Franklin Volunteer Network, hosted the event. “It felt good connecting with people who make a difference in the historic Grange hall,” she said.
In 2009, a total of 3,099 volunteers gave 145,532 hours to make a difference in the lives of others. Those hours were worth $3,034,342.
“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world,” Laflin told them, quoting an unknown source.
The Franklin Volunteer Network’s goal is to identify volunteer opportunities, connect individuals to those volunteer opportunities, offer training to volunteer managers and provide peer support, she said. The network started in the mid-1990s and has been reinvigorated in the last few years by many individuals and organizations.
Network members nominated people for the first Rising Star and Shining Star Awards. The former is for a new volunteer; the latter for those who have volunteered at least 10 years.
Rick Dorian, executive director of Life Enrichment Advancing People, nominated and presented the Rising Star Award to Ashley Wentworth, a recent University of Maine at Farmington graduate. She has given more than 200 hours of service to LEAP, along with other community service, he said.
Dr. Roger and Karyl Condit were presented the Shining Star Award. They have served their community since moving to Farmington 50 years ago. Nancy Teel of the Community Energy Challenge nominated the couple after they went to Salem to build window panels for others.
Franklin Volunteer Network member Dennis O’Neil challenged people to reach 250,000 volunteer hours in 2010.
While logged volunteer work represents thousands of hours, there are also thousands of uncounted hours given within the greater Franklin County area, Laflin said.
She said one volunteer told her she didn’t feel she did anything special by knitting sweaters and hats for others. “You don’t just knit. You’re making a difference. Little parts make a big difference,” Laflin said she told her.
“Volunteering for me, with youth in particular, is like a blood transfusion — it feeds my heart and soul,” an anonymous volunteer wrote.