For the past 48 years, Diana Graham and Helen Hubbard have been the best of friends. They met as neighbors in Columbus, Ohio when Helen came over to ask a question about school. As adults, Helen moved away to Lancaster, Ohio and Diana moved to Sunbury, Ohio. Years later Helen’s husband passed away and she decided to move to Sunbury to be close to her dearest friend.
Now retired and with her husband passing nearly two years ago, Graham felt like she needed something to do to fill her time. An attempt at working didn’t pan out, so she turned to volunteering which provided a more manageable pace. She came across a listing of Connections Volunteer Opportunities in the Delaware Gazette and was amazed at all the options presented. Reading through the list, she thought the Salvation Army Pantry in Delaware, Ohio would be a good match. After interviewing with pantry manager, Teresa Lambert, she was matched to the volunteer opportunity. Knowing she wanted to share this experience, she told Hubbard and they been steady volunteers ever since.
Graham and Hubbard volunteer at the pantry every Tuesday and have been doing so for nearly a year. Lambert has come to rely on their consistent help and, friendly and caring personalities. She said the ladies engage the clients in conversation and love to help them find the food they need for their families.
One example Lambert cited was last year when Halloween fell on a Tuesday and she knew Diane and Helen would bring their “A game”. And, bring their best is exactly what they did as Helen and Diana dressed up as prisoners, according to Lambert. “They elicited a lot of laughs from clients,” said Lambert.
Graham said that’s why they do what they do – to bring a little joy into someone else’s life.
Part of their volunteer duties includes answering phones, greeting clients and setting up client appointments and helping shoppers in the pantry – saving Lambert lots of time.
In addition to the Salvation Army, both Graham and Hubbard have been steady volunteers at the Common Ground Free Store volunteering every Wednesday morning for the past eight months. However, Helen recently had to scale back her responsibilities due to illness – but hopes to be back soon. Both are also members of the Marion Red Hat Mamma’s (RHM) – a 55+ group that meets monthly for a meal, activity and donates monthly to a charity. Reminiscent of a saintly Thelma and Louise, Graham picks up Hubbard each week to participate in the RHM meetings and activities.
Graham says that she likes volunteering because she enjoys helping and being around people. She contributes this feeling to the friendly atmosphere at both The Salvation Army Pantry and Common Ground Free Store. Graham also mentioned that volunteering gives her something to look forward to.
“I loved doing the pantry during Easter,” said Graham. “We gave away 65 baskets and hams; it was great to have a wide variety of baskets so the parents could “shop” for a basket for their child, giving them some ownership in the giving and feeling like they were getting a hand up not just a hand out.”
With this being their first go at volunteering, Hubbard said that it’s “helped her keep life in perspective.” This past winter, Hubbard used her crochet skills to make hats for people and gave them away through the pantry and Free store. Hubbard described it as rewarding and fulfilling.
When asked what advice they would give to someone who is thinking about volunteering, both Hubbard and Graham said, “just do it.”
“Just try it out, you’ll find what you’re looking for, while helping people,” they said.
Article and interview conducted by Colleen Dennis, Volunteer Coordinator, Connections Volunteer Center.