Senior volunteers recognized

Senior volunteers recognized

April 6th, 2011 by Rebecca Miller in Community Downtown

Two Chattanooga residents and members of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program are nominees in the National Service Award category for the annual Volunteer United Awards Banquet.

Well-known volunteers Pat Wright and Kathleen Trew will be eligible for an award at the April 12 ceremony, which will be held at Unum's Atrium in the west building from 6 to 8 p.m.

National Service Award category nominee Kathleen Trew volunteers at the Memorial North Shore Health Center.

Photo by Rebecca Miller/Times Free Press.

"What is so amazing about these two women is that they both individually identified a need and were able to take the initiative to address it," said Jayme Upton, director of RSVP Senior Neighbors, an Alexian Brothers ministry. "They both are very loyal and committed to the places they volunteer."

Wright, a retired nurse who lives in East Brainerd, has volunteered for 25 years at the Ladies of Charity Ministry which is now on Rossville Boulevard. The nonprofit began as a downtown soup kitchen, but now provides a wide range of emergency social assistance services. Wright and her husband worked for the ministry when it was located on Main Street, where Wright became manager of the Layette program.

"We don't know what we'd do without Pat and the Layette Ministry volunteers she manages so diligently and well," said Jan Clark, ministry director.

Wright puts together layettes made out of clothes hampers decorated with handmade skirts and filled with items that a new mother with limited resources may need for her child. Everything from clothes to stuffed animals are lovingly packed in each basket. Wright has made up to 144 layettes in one year and is constantly sorting, washing, mending and pressing donated items. She said she strives to provide each layette its own personality, creating themed baskets when she can.

"There's just so much to do," Wright said. "The need seems to be getting greater. It gets to your heart to think there are so many babies in need."

The second nominee is Hixson resident Trew, who volunteers at least 40 hours a week at Memorial North Shore Health Center. Trew has logged more than 15,000 volunteer hours working with patients who are uninsured or unable to pay and keeping everyone's paperwork in immaculate order in the center's large file room.

"Kathleen provides an essential service that helps us stretch our resources and be more efficient in our work," said center Director Polly Ryan. "Her compassionate spirit leads her to go beyond what is expected to help others and she is an inspiration to our staff and our patients."

Trew said she uses 40 years of experience in accounting and record keeping to help her keep all the files straight and everything just how she likes it. She is careful to recycle file folders and paper so the office can be as efficient as possible, she added.

"I do a job and I don't leave my job until I know it's done the way I want it," said Trew, who also does some record keeping for her church, St. Luke United Methodist. "They say that if it's a piece of paper, it's got my fingerprints on it."

Both Wright and Trew will attend the awards banquet, but neither said they need or necessarily want the recognition, preferring simply to volunteer for the sake of meeting needs in their community.