Paper-pushing volunteers are unsung heroes
Other volunteer tasks may not seem quite as thrilling, be it cleaning, stuffing envelopes, or answering phones.
Volunteers Darlene White and Jan Prelgo are familiar with those kinds of low-key activities. For years, both of them have spent several hours a week doing office work at The Salvation Army Northern Division headquarters in Roseville, Minn.
They don’t mind pushing paper, because they understand an important truth: time is money.
“Jan and Darlene’s volunteer efforts reduce our staffing costs, which allows The Salvation Army to spend more money on helping people,” said Haley Nelson, Salvation Army volunteer services coordinator. “In a roundabout way, their work is providing food, shelter, and other resources for people and families in need.”
That statement is true. Jan and Darlene’s combined 1,570 hours of volunteering for The Salvation Army, valued at $24 per hour, adds up to $40,000. That’s enough money to provide a week’s worth of groceries for nearly 2,700 families of four.
Below, Jan and Darlene explain why they volunteer for The Salvation Army and what they love about it.
For about five years, Darlene has spent one half-day a week checking the accuracy of the letters we send to our donors, and other office activities.
She is no stranger to this kind of work. For 32 years she worked in donor relations for the Rev. Billy Graham, whose worldwide ministry used to be headquartered in Minneapolis.
“I was in charge of a department that would send 50,000 to 60,000 letters per week, and millions of magazines per month,” Darlene said.
She volunteers for The Salvation Army because she respects the way we spend our money. In the Twin Cities, 83 cents of every dollar donated goes directly toward helping people in need.
“I see how well the donations are being used here, and I see the difference the money is making in this ministry,” Darlene said. “In working for Billy Graham, I learned how sacrificially people give to these kinds of causes, and how essential it is for these causes to be frugal.”
Darlene is a self-describe introvert who likes doing office work because it keeps her out of the spotlight.
“My motivation is to share the love of Christ behind the scenes,” she said. “I know I’m making a difference in the ministry.”
Darlene also enjoys Salvation Army staff members.
“I love the people here,” she said. “They are like family. They are so kind.”
Soon after Jan retired from her 27-year career in IT management for the State of Minnesota, she knew she wanted to volunteer regularly. But she didn’t know where.
Then it hit her: Help one of her husband’s favorite organizations – The Salvation Army.
Jan’s husband worked as a firefighter. Oftentimes, The Salvation Army would serve him coffee, donuts and sandwiches while he and his crew battles blazes.
“I remember him coming home in the morning, smelling smoky, and saying The Salvation Army was there all night,” Jan recalled. “He was so impressed with the work they did. I knew that The Salvation Army is where I wanted to volunteer.”
She made that decision 10 years ago, and she’s been volunteering one day a week ever since.
Like Darlene, Jan spends much of her volunteer time checking or writing letters to donors. She also helps at fundraising events such as the MOST Amazing Race.
“Whatever there is to do, I do,” Jan said. “I love working with the people here. There’s a great dynamic.”
Jan and her husband spend their summers bouncing between their home in White Bear Lake and their cabin up north, where they enjoy boating, fishing and shopping.
She is proud to volunteer for The Salvation Army.
“I’ll be here until I can’t be here anymore,” Jan said with a laugh.
Jim Daly has served at countless floods, fires, and other disasters across Minn. and N.D., and even traveled the country to serve after tragedies like 9/11.
Sheila German has been volunteering at the Salvation Army Store in Grand Rapids, Minn., for two decades. Three days a week, she comes in for five hours to sort donations of shoes, jewelry, and winter wear...