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Pepperell Senior Center salutes the volunteers that keep it running

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It’s not unusual for an employee to call in when they can’t make it for a shift. It is unusual when that employee calls in three months in advance about missing a shift. And it’s even more unusual when that employee calls in and has a replacement worker already lined up so the work gets done without missing a beat.

And it’s rare to any of those things happen when the person isn’t an employee after all but rather, just a volunteer.

Yet it happens every day at the Pepperell Senior Center. Volunteers call in weeks in advance if they can’t make it and within literally minutes sometimes, a replacement volunteer is found. Volunteers work nights and weekends and some volunteers at the center are on -call 24/7. No one gets paid — but you wouldn’t know it.

Nearly 200 of these wonderful volunteers staff the Pepperell Senior Center and those numbers are way up over the last few years. It’s a good thing too, because that Senior Center (a.k.a Your Home Away From Home) is growing fast with new members, services, events and activities.

But it’s the volunteers that make it hum. Without them, the place doesn’t work. Without them teaching, cooking, cleaning, shopping, singing, helping, writing, organizing, driving and yes; just cherishing and loving our senior citizens, we might as well shut the doors.

Instead we celebrate. On Thursday night, June 29, at the Pepperell Senior Center there was the Annual Volunteer Dinner complete with dancing and an awards ceremony. Oh, what a night! The thousands and thousands of hours donated was presented in the form of a symbolic check to Town Administrator Mark Andrews and the Town’s Select Board represented by Lisa Ferolito and Roland Nutter. It’s a huge deal to have that many volunteers.

The evening was special in that volunteers ranging from the ages of 15 to 98 were recognized. Most volunteers were dressed to the nines, all smiled and more than a few cried accepting their small tokens of appreciation. Volunteering is a highly-held value here.

It was an honor to acknowledge all of the volunteers that night. It was also thrill to have Emmett Schmarsow from the Massachusetts Executive office of Elder Affairs make it through two hours of traffic to attend and say a few words. And finally, it was a privilege as it has been for the last four years, to have our staff Volunteers Coordinator Dianna Homoleski, the leader of this vital group that works for free, lead us once again in both cause and celebration in one of the most wonderful and important nights Pepperell has every year.

Susan K. McCarthy

Pepperell Senior Center

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