Volunteers helping Dora nonprofit thrive

By LEA RIZZO, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 12/10/17

DORA — The Mission of Hope in Dora is able to help people in need in Walker County, Adamsville and Graysville thanks to the many volunteers who spend hours each week working to organize donations and set up each month’s food giveaways, according to executive director Lori Abercrombie.

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Volunteers helping Dora nonprofit thrive

Posted

DORA — The Mission of Hope in Dora is able to help people in need in Walker County, Adamsville and Graysville thanks to the many volunteers who spend hours each week working to organize donations and set up each month’s food giveaways, according to executive director Lori Abercrombie.

“It’s hard to put into words the generosity of heart and soul that come from people who volunteer on a regular basis,” Abercrombie said.

Nancy Carlisle is one of these volunteers who has been with the Mission of Hope, a nonprofit food bank and clothes closet located in Dora, for almost five years.

She began volunteering after retiring from a 19-year career at Bevill State Community College, where she served as the dean of the Sumiton campus for a decade.

“I have a neighbor who volunteers here and has for some time,” Carlisle explained. “After retiring from Bevill, I was looking for some way to give back to the community and a way to get out in the community. I asked her if I could come with her, and that was that. One time and that was it.”

Carlisle spends the majority of her time at the Mission of Hope in a room with a few other volunteers, sorting racks of hangers and hanging up clothes for people who come to the mission to look through.

During her time volunteering, Carlisle said she’s made new friends and has had a lot of fun since she first started volunteering.

“When you’re here and all these chairs are full,” Carlisle said, motioning around the large room full of folding chairs, “and you see their faces and know you’re giving back to the community, you can smile at them and they’ll smile back at you. That’s the most rewarding thing about being here.”

Carlisle, who is also the caretaker for her husband Cliff, who has ALS, encouraged other retirees who want to stay involved to volunteer.

She also encouraged those needing help to not be embarrassed and to contact the Mission of Hope about signing up for food or clothes.

The Mission of Hope is currently preparing for their annual Christmas party and giveaway next week. Children who have been pre-registered are able to get a new pair of shoes and a coat, as well as pick out toys to take home with them. This year, 150 children and around 75 families will be attending.

“The little kids, they’re so excited to have a new pair of shoes,” Carlisle said. “There was a little girl who got a pair of light-up shoes and she put them on and was just dancing and having the biggest time with her new shoes. That’s exciting to see that happen.”

Abercrombie described the organization’s volunteers as priceless.

“It takes our volunteers to make this happen,” she said. “They’re working very long hours, sometimes even at night. A lot of people collecting, a lot of people working behind the scenes that you never see, because that’s their heart.”

She added that most of the organization’s volunteers have a special investment in issues that people coming to the Mission of Hope face and work especially on remedying those problems. Abercrombie cited one volunteer who rarely received new shoes when she was growing up and now works to make sure there are always enough shoes for children who come to the mission.

“If you stop and talk to any volunteer, there’s a heart connection with what they’re doing and that is so important when you’re serving families that are struggling — to be able to talk to them and identify with what they’re going through,” she explained.

She added that volunteering at a nonprofit is a way to not only help others, but to help yourself as well and even those who can’t help out physically can still donate clothing, food or money.

Those wishing to volunteer can visit the Mission of Hope, which is located at 38 Cut N Curl Road in Dora, on Wednesdays between 8 until 11 a.m. to pick up volunteer applications.