By VICTORIA CALDERON
• Leader & Times
Many people across the community contribute to the effort of making Liberal oz-some, but volunteers doing various services around town arguably play the biggest role.
From the United Way to Stepping Stone Shelter to Big Brothers Big Sisters, there are a variety of nonprofit organizations for people looking to make a difference to get involved with.
The Coronado Museum, specifically the Dorothy program, is a perfect example of the influence of volunteer outreach in the Liberal community.
Although the Dorothys are paid for giving tours of Dorothy’s House and the Land of Oz, their job does not end there. Every Dorothy spends hours off the clock every year serving the community in various ways. Dorothys have to be at least 14 years old to work at the museum, but can be younger if they wish to wear a Dorothy dress and volunteer their time.
A few activities Dorothys are often involved in are dinners and events at the nursing homes, especially Liberal Springs and Good Samaritan Society; serving food to firefighters to thank them for their service; donating stuffed animals to put inside emergency vehicles; and “adopting” families in need for Christmas.
“We have seen families that have great need, so from time to time, we adopt families,” Executive Director of the museum, Joanne Mansell, said. “The girls buy Christmas presents for every member of the family, the adult staff buys food and then we take the food and gifts and leave them on the porch.”
The Dorothys have helped youth in the community as well, also during the holidays. One year, they worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters to provide young girls a Christmas they would never forget by adopting a Little for a night.
“We had about 15 girls at the time, and each girl bought a gift for their Little Sister,” Mansell recalled. “Good Samaritan came over with their bus, and we took all the Dorothys and their Little Sisters to Good Samaritan. We walked up and down the halls, singing Christmas carols. We came back to the museum and... Santa Claus passed out the gifts. They came into the big room and had hot chocoate and brownies. It was a wonderful experience for our girls.”
Another very memorable cause the Dorothys helped with was for a little girl named Victoria, who was battling cancer. They did fundraisers, such as a spaghetti dinner, to help with medical costs.
However, they did much more to aid Victoria and her family.
“This little girl was having chemo, and she needed some hats, because she lost all of her hair,” Mansell said. “Every Dorothy brought in hats for her; she had a whole array of hats. The girls took her little sisters under their wing as well. They also sent things to Oklahoma City’s Children’s Mercy, for other little chemo patients Victoria had interacted with. She has since passed away, but her family still comes back to see us.”
The Dorothys are just as impacted by their service as the people and organizations they serve.
“Part of our Dorothy program is that our young ladies learn to give back. Volunteerism is down in our community, so we are trying to recultivate that self-satisfaction that you get from volunteering to help other people,” Mansell said. “They have seen the value in giving back to the community that they live in.”
Volunteer opportunities at the Coronado Museum are not limited to Dorothys, however. High school and college students alike are “greatly welcomed” to volunteer at the museum.
“We’re always so excited to have volunteers,” Mansell said. “They clean the yard, they paint screens and trash cans, and help us with setting up chairs and that sort of thing.”
The Coronado Museum is located at 567 Yellow Brick Road, and they can be reached at 624-7624.
One does not have to be a Dorothy to volunteer at the Good Samaritan Society, a nonprofit nursing home for the elderly.
The Activities Director, Brenda Regier, said volunteers are needed for a myriad of tasks. Volunteers can help out with special events at the nursing home, give residents manicures, help with Bingo, play dominoes with the residents and even give concerts.
“We’ve had high school students that need community service hours come in and help,” Regier said. “What I would really like to see is a family come and adopt a grandma or grandpa. They would basically come and spend time with that one person. We have a lot of residents who don’t have family close that will come and visit very often.
“The Tyrone school’s third grade came and started pen pals. There are numerous other things you can do. If a Girl Scout troop wanted to adopt a grandma or a Sunday school group wanted to be pen pals, that would be great.”
In order to volunteer at the nursing home, anyone interested must fill out an application, and then Good Samaritan has to complete a background check in order to keep the residents safe.
Other than that, the only requirement is to have “a loving heart and listening ear,” as Regier said. There is not a certain age volunteers need to be, and they can be from any group or organization in town.
Volunteers are impacted by their service at Good Samaritan as much as the residents are.
“I tell people that the nursing home is just a history book waiting to be opened. If somebody would just come and give some time and a listening ear, you can learn so much from these people,” Regier said. “It’s just amazing. They have so much knowledge and they have been through so much. They have been through the Dirty Thirties. We have one resident who is 100 years old, and she’s been on a covered wagon. It’s just endless, the things these people have seen and done. They could tell you stories that you couldn’t believe.”
Regier also mentioned another way to get involved with Good Samaritan. A Liberal auxiliary group volunteers at the nursing home by coming in regularly to give manicures, raising money and helping Regier with special events.
One of the big events the auxiliary puts together is a bazaar in November. Money raised from the bazaar goes towards improving the nursing home or back to the residents, according to Regier.
The auxiliary meets once a month, when they get together to talk about what needs to be done at Good Samaritan and what Regier needs help with.
To find out more information about volunteering at the nursing home or with the auxiliary, call 624-3831 to speak with Regier. The Good Samaritan Society is located at 2160 Zinnia Lane.