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Apr 25, 201701:15 PMCity Beat

Volunteer of the Month, April 2017

Apr 25, 2017 - 01:15 PM
Volunteer of the Month, April 2017

Director of Advancement Sam Primak and Volunteer Jan Lewis

Tell us about your volunteering.
I joined The Arc’s Board of Directors six years ago and now serve as the Board Chair.  When I first joined the board, it was much more operational than today.  We have evolved into a governing board but not without its challenges. Along with the fiduciary responsibility, we do have opportunities to participate in various events and experiences with our consumers and families throughout the year.  We are currently beginning discussions concerning our Sapphire Anniversary which is in 2018 and have many wonderful events planned for this year including: Speak Out scheduled for March 26 in celebration of ID Month; participation in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community; Family Fun Day which is for consumers, families , and care givers to be held in August; our Million Dollar Golf Tournament which will take place in September and our monthly dances at the Harsco Center. In addition to our events, we are preparing to open our new Respite Camp Center later this month. Everything we plan and do is related to our mission.

Why do you volunteer? What do you get out of it?
It’s a bit selfish. It makes me feel more vital giving back to the community and knowing I’m a small part of making our consumer’s lives more fulfilling as well.

Describe the feeling you get from volunteering.
A feeling of satisfaction knowing I’ve been a part of something that makes another life better/happier. Putting a smile on someone’s face means a lot.

What is it about The Arc that compels you to volunteer?
I spent my entire professional life advocating and educating children with special needs.  After retiring, The Arc allowed me to continue advocating for the intellectual disability community.  The Arc of Dauphin County is a family of people devoted to its mission of enhancing the quality of life and community integration for individuals with special needs.

What would you say to others to encourage them to volunteer at The Arc, as well as any other charity in the area?
The mission of an organization is most important.  If you are drawn to the mission of a group, and you have the desire to give back and help make lives better, even if only in small ways, I would encourage involvement. If you are able to focus on someone’s abilities as opposed to their disabilities, then perhaps The Arc is for you.

If you had the power to instantly change one thing in the world, what would it be and why?
I wish that our compassion and humanity would outweigh our bigotry and prejudices around the world.

Where and with whom do you find inspiration?
My inspiration comes from our consumers and their families as did the hundreds of special needs children and their families when I was teaching. As a teacher, I spent only several hours a day working with my students. It is a 24/7 proposition for parents and care givers of special needs children and adults. I witnessed the sacrifices parents made for their loved ones…they are not only inspirational but courageous.

Alive or dead, name one person you’d like to have lunch with and why.
Although there are many artists, composers, and historical figures I would love to have lunch with, the one person I admire most, and it is not for religious reasons because I am not Catholic, is Pope Francis. His compassion and humanity reminds us all of the good that can be accomplished with a kind and selfless heart. (However, it would also be nice if Sean Connery would stop by to say hello.)

Tell about fellow volunteers at The Arc.
Many of our volunteers at The Arc have family connections to our consumers and their families; all believe in our mission. Some of our volunteers are our consumers not only for The Arc but other organizations as well.  Everyone works as a team, along with a very dedicated staff led by our President, Craig George, in providing the services and memorable experiences for all of our consumers.

What is the single most important moment of charity you have been a part of or witnessed?
There is no one important moment but many small acts of kindness expressed by some of my special need students , friends, and family that I’ve witnessed throughout the years.

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