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Volunteer Work

Eyob Mathias
03/09/2013

Commission on Economic Opportunity

I moved to Wilkes-Barre, PA four months ago, to attend my dosimetry internship program at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Hospital. Although its not nationally recognized location, Wilkes-Barre has been known for its coal mining and peanut planation industries in the 19th century. Some used to call this town black diamond city because of the past lucrative coal mining local businesses. In 1959, a catastrophic mining accident occurred in Wilkes-Barre. The popular coal mining area was flooded by 10 billion gallons of water, killing and trapping several miners underground. January 22, 1959 is marked as Knox mine disaster day and local churches holds annual ceremony in memory of the coal miners that died 50 years ago. Since most of the Wilkes-Barre residents were dependent on making their living from coal mining and plantation industry, this historical incident significantly changed their lives for the worst. Since then Wilkes-Barre garnered attention for its high levels of poverty. I always wanted to help people who are in need and thats my main reason to choose a healthcare profession in an oncology department. When I was given an assignment to complete volunteer work, I had the opportunity to choose from several local non-profit organizations that are helping low-income Wilkes-Barre residents to recover from the disastrous historical poverty. It wasnt an easy task to make a decision as to which organization would fit me better to volunteer. After spending few days researching through all NGOs mission purpose, I finally decided to volunteer for a well-known local company known as Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO). CEO was incorporated in 1966, 7 years after the major disaster in WilkesBarre, as a community action agency to alleviate poverty. Operating more than twenty programs, CEO in 2000 served more than twenty thousand individuals from some eight thousand households. CEO's approach to the needs of low-income and vulnerable populations has evolved over time. In addition to its highly regarded, multi-faceted response to basic human needs, CEO has become a recognized leader in energy conservation and environmental technologies that will lessen the effects of poverty in the future. Recently CEO has added child and family centered services while sustaining and expanding its support for the independence of the aged and disabled. I decided to specifically volunteer for this part of the organization where I can help children that are from low-income families or dont have parents. I contacted the Coordinator of Volunteers/Children's Programs Maura M. Modrovsky to ask her about how I can be involved. She replied back with detailed information on the process 2

of volunteering and what positions are curently in need for volunteers. She indicated that her organization was looking for volunteers to pack food boxes for low-income seniors and children. I was glad to be able to get such opportunity to contribute my part of helping those who are in need. It was Saturday 9:30am, March 9, 2013. The chilly weather outside didnt discourage any of the volunteers from meeting up at the CEO warehouse. I saw a volunteer name signing sheet at the door. I signed my name and proceeded to walk in to the warehouse looking for the volunteer organizer. I saw all of the volunteers, busy with their specific duty of packing food boxes. I was amazed to see about 5 children volunteering and they are probably around the age of 13. I asked one of the volunteers where the volunteer coordinator and how can I help. He told me he doesnt know where the volunteer coordinator is and he is very busy with his work. I stood at the corner for about 5 minutes, observing everyones activity and thinking about which duty needs a little more help. I saw the 5 kids helping each other and packing box, so I decided to just join them and help them by taking some of their workload. One of them became very friendly with me and we started talking while packing the food box. He told me that he came to volunteer with his mother and he volunteers every weekend. When I asked him why, he explained to me his mother raised him without a father and CEO was always there to help her. So I understood that it gives him a sense of satisfaction to contribute whatever he can to help the company. My specific duty was to pack cereal, corn flakes and juice into the box and pass the box to the next person on my right side. The next person will fill up the box with some other foods and pass it onto the next one. After around 10 people fill up the box with different kind of foods, the last person will package the box and make it ready to be shipped out. The kid that was working with me helped me by bringing new boxes and passing me some of the foods so I can pack the box quickly and pass it to the next person. Within less than 2 hours numerous food boxes were ready to be shipped out. At 12:00pm the volunteer coordinator showed up to thank us for our work and let us know that volunteering time is over. I left the warehouse with a mixed feeling of exhaustion and

satisfaction. Its priceless to know that the food box I packed will put a smile on someones face. I was very happy to volunteer for CEO and I look forward to volunteering again in the future. Reference 1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilkes-Barre,_Pennsylvania 2) http://www.ceopeoplehelpingpeople.org/