Volunteerism and Giving

In the Urbana area, I volunteer for a number of activities, primarily related to my church and local civic and community functions. Being retired, I have a considerable measure of freedom in deciding how to devote my time. Not everyone has this level of freedom. Parents of school-age children face numerous demands and have to make difficult choices regarding how they invest any free time.

Some volunteer activities involve addressing a need or cause that may require intensive effort during a short period. Examples include raising money for medical treatments for an ill person or preparing for a short-term event, such as the “Safe and Sane” night held at Urbana High School. Other activities may require a continuing investment of effort, such as assisting the Southern Frederick County food kitchen.

Among my church activities I do a variety of things at the historic church property located on Old Urbana Church Road. Built in 1876, it was in regular use until about 1999 when a new church was opened at Route 80 and Prices Distillery Road. While in regular use, parishioners did the gardening at the historic church. However, once the new one opened, attention shifted there.

The historic church property has a cemetery where I do maintenance work. There are grave markers to be repaired and cleaned, as well as a never-ending task of dealing with weeds. Markers also shift positions and need to be adjusted. Two other historic church cemeteries in the old Urbana area have benefited from similar restoration and maintenance work. I attended classes on the subject sponsored by Knight Kiplinger.

Another of my volunteer activities is the Urbana fire and rescue department. I don’t run “calls” but assist in the kitchen at fund-raising dinners. The major fund-raising activity for the department is the annual week-long July carnival.

Organizing the annual carnival is very demanding. Planning for the next carnival begins shortly after the current event ends. There are decisions to be made and contracts to be signed. In the weeks preceding the opening of the carnival, the pace of effort increases, retracing steps from preceding years.

Based on the greatly increased costs of new cars and declining carnival raffle ticket sales, a decision was made to drop a car from the prizes and substitute other items. Given the normally hot weather in mid-July and the risk of rain, another change involved moving the bingo activities from outdoors to indoors in the dinner hall.

On the Monday evening opening, dozens of volunteers appear and take their places at the various carnival stations. This is repeated on each of the six evenings. Many of the volunteers spend several hours each evening, regardless of weather conditions. Volunteers come not only from the immediate Urbana area, but also from considerable distances.

I observe the carnival process with a measure of awe and profound respect for the efforts of the dedicated volunteers. Volunteers from more than two generations within families can be found at work. Beyond the personal satisfaction they take away from their service, the department rewards them with a catered appreciation dinner. This year’s dinner took place on Aug. 24.

Editor’s Note: Rich Terselic is a member of the board of directors of the Villages of Urbana Homeowners’ Association.

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