Big commitment reaps big reward for volunteer

Volunteer Deby Schwartz presents a check to Larry Smith, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Denver, outside Samaritan House shelter.

Several months ago, an unexpected gift was brought to the Samaritan House shelter in Denver. Deby Schwartz saw a posting online for volunteers needed to help decorate the shelter for the holidays and quickly jumped at the opportunity.

Deby, who is Jewish, got in to the giving spirit by dedicating her time and energy to helping those in need in her community. Little did she know that she would become a regular volunteer at the Samaritan House and donate a $1,000 grant to the shelter.

On her first day, as she was retrieving the Christmas tree from of the warehouse, Deby noticed the shelter could use some help organizing the shelves and sorting the piles of donations.

She thought to herself, “Oh, I love doing that; I can do that!”

At the end of her volunteer day, she asked to come back to help organize the warehouse. Soon enough, Deby was back week after week to tackle the project, spending her Sundays tucked away in the warehouse for hours.

“It’s something I enjoy. It’s not a chore, it’s a pleasure,” she said.

And because Deby believes in the work that the Samaritan House does for those in her own downtown neighborhood, she continues coming back as a regular and encourages others to do the same. In Deby’s eyes, the Samaritan House helps people out of poverty in a constructive way.

“It’s teaching them (the residents) to fish—they’re not just fishing for them and saying here is your dinner. I really think that’s great.”

Deby’s passion for volunteering found a unique fit at the Samaritan House because she can serve by doing what she loves.

“It helps you look inside yourself to know that you can help others with your time, your energy, and the skill that you enjoy doing,” she said.

Though Deby goes mostly unseen by residents and other volunteers at the shelter, her work certainly does not.

“From behind the scenes I am helping them. When the kitchen needs something, they can find it. When the residents are moving out, there is a shelf area for their needs,” she said.

Despite Deby’s best efforts to make a difference in her own small, covert way, she has been recognized and rewarded in big, noticeable ways.

“Her example led me to become a regular volunteer with an organization that helps youth experiencing homelessness” said Deby’s co-worker Dana Aubin.

Dana nominated Deby for a “Community Hero Award” at their company, McKesson Technology Solutions in Centennial, Colo. Deby was selected because of her dedication to service and ability to inspire others, and she was given a $1,000 charitable grant in May, which she then donated to the Samaritan House.

“I won this $1,000 grant and everybody has been saying, ‘great job’. It’s really humbling,” Deby said. “It’s embarrassing, but it makes me feel good because I am doing something—not for the recognition, but it’s something that I enjoy and that I hope is making a difference for the Samaritan House.”

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