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Coordinator says volunteers like sharing their skills

January 30, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

LEITERSBURG

marlob@herald-mail.com

As the volunteer coordinator at Brook Lane, Rosanna Gonzalez says her job is made considerably easier because of a strong feeling of concern shared by people in the area for the patients and residents there.

"I'm supposed to recruit them, but they come to me usually," said Gonzalez, who has held her part-time job for 3 1/2 years.

She has about 15 volunteers "working" at the facility that provides inpatient and outpatient mental health services. But there is a constant turnover of those volunteers.

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Young people come and go because of life changes, while older people tend to stay a little longer, Gonzalez said.

As an example, a young man named Mike Hurley was volunteering his time teaching guitar to teens at Brook Lane's Stone Bridge Transitional Care Home but is now furthering his education and had to bow out, Gonzalez said.

The volunteers share one common thread - they like doing things and sharing their skills with kids and adults, Gonzalez said.

Brook Lane volunteers conduct yoga classes, teach craft lessons, lead Bible studies and tutor school-age children who need help with their studies.

Gonzalez, 53, hails from Bethesda, Md., and used to be an art therapist at Sheppard Pratt Health System.

The Gonzalez family, which relocated to Washington County 11 years ago, includes Rosanna, her husband, Dr. David Gonzalez, Brook Lane's medical director, and their three daughters.

The part-time nature of the job has allowed Gonzalez to volunteer her time at her daughters' schools and be available to share her art skills in the community.

"I taught art one day a week at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts," Gonzalez said. "I enjoyed that a lot because it is such a wonderful place to work."

That gave her the chance to work with children in addition to her own.

"I found that being a mother has helped me evaluate volunteers for this job," she said.

Soon after moving to Washington County, Gonzalez said one of her daughters had to do a report for her third-grade class on her new home.

"We made T-shirts with pictures of the bridges of Washington County and sold them at the museum," she said.

The idea came from the book "The Bridges of Madison County," Gonzalez said, adding that the orientation to Washington County was fun for her and her girls as they traveled around checking out the bridges.

"They made great gifts, too," she said, referring to the shirts.

Is she looking for more volunteers? Yes, always, Gonzalez said.

For more information about volunteering at Brook Lane, call 301-733-0330, ext. 189.

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