1. Archive

Volunteering for the sheer love of helping

(ran SP, NP editions)

Dorothy Streams is a volunteer's volunteer.

"I never really had to work, so I didn't have a profession," she said. "I volunteered my time wherever I was needed." That has added up to more than 50 years of volunteer service.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Dorothy graduated from Oliver High School, then cared for her mother until her death. She married at age 22 and raised a son and a daughter.

Those child-caring years were filled with volunteer experiences and memories: ball games, Girl Scout cookie drives with stacks of cookie cartons filling the house, trips and camping exploits.

"I had fun," she says.

In 1972 Dorothy's husband took a new job in Florida and the family moved South. Dorothy did not want to leave her children, grandchildren and friends. "I cried all the way down the turnpike to Florida," she said.

However, living in Gulfport gave her a new opportunity to volunteer. When the Senior Center was opened, she was there to meet, greet and to extend her friendship and talents. Her ability to write poetry _ off the top of her head _ became a recognized art and was a popular part of many programs.

At the Senior Center she served coffee and doughnuts and acted as the information receptionist. She established reading groups where she would entertain by reading her poems and classical materials.

Being a voracious reader quickly brought her to the Gulfport Library, where she has been a devoted volunteer for the past 16 years. She is there to help from 8:30 to noon Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Her assignment is to put plastic jackets on the books and stamp all new acquisitions.

Her love of books also led her to begin a large-print and a talking-book library at Pasadena Nursing Home. She arranged for the nursing home residents to obtain films to show the patients through the Gulfport Library. She also established a story hour and read to the residents.

Several weeks ago, the Gulfport Casino was filled with city volunteers for an appreciation luncheon. Dorothy was honored as "Lady of the Year" for the city of Gulfport.

"I feel everyone has a duty to be a volunteer and to help others if they are able and needed," Dorothy said. "There are many people who are unable to function without the help of a volunteer. I feel a personal satisfaction of being able to give, not take."

To volunteer

Retired Senior Volunteer Program: 327-8690

Volunteer Action Center: 893-1140

_ Betty Hayward is the director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program in Pinellas County. You can write her c/o Seniority, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.