Verna Anson - Seniors, church focus of her efforts

April 19, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Learning how to navigate the computer and Internet opened up a new world to Verna Anson.

Not only did she discover a new way to communicate with her far-flung children and relatives, but she found a way to help out other senior citizens.

Anson, 74, is the volunteer supervisor of Berkeley Senior Services' computer program, for which she coordinates 19 other volunteers working to teach senior citizens computer skills.

Knowing how to use the computer "opens up so many avenues. You can go in and do genealogy. We have students who are writing novels. Or even with travel, (seniors) can look at different places and see where they would like to go," Anson said.


At any given time, Berkeley Senior Services in Martinsburg offers eight computer classes, including basic computer skills, surfing the Internet and how to use Photoshop software.

But giving 10 to 20 hours each week to supervise the computer programs and teach a few classes herself isn't enough for Anson. She is involved with the senior services' volunteer committee, which plans fundraisers for the senior center and identifies areas where more volunteers are needed. She also is a member of the senior services' advisory board, which meets once a month to listen to feedback from seniors.

"Volunteering is so important, especially with a nonprofit," Anson said. "It gives you satisfaction knowing that you are helping someone else."

She also likes knowing that the senior center benefits from her volunteer work. Volunteer hours free up funds that can be used elsewhere, she said.

"Verna is one of our most active volunteers," said Linda Holtzapple, executive director of Berkeley Senior Services. "We count on our volunteers at the front desk, at the adult day care services and even in the kitchen. I don't know what we'd do without our volunteers."

More than 6,000 volunteer hours were logged in 2005 through the senior center, Holtzapple said.

Outside of the senior services center, Anson enjoys volunteering with her church, Trinity Episcopal Church in Martinsburg. She's a member of the church Altar Guild and, with another woman, coordinates 40 volunteers who help take care of the church altar.

The group prepares for every service, launders altar linens, polishes silver and brassware and makes sure the church is set up properly. She also is a member of the church's Hospital Callers group, which visits church members in the hospital. She is one of her church's four Lay Eucharistic Visitors, who take the Eucharist (blessed bread and wine) to homebound church members.

"I've got lots of time because I'm widowed and I don't have any children around," Anson said. "I like to keep my time filled so that I don't get too lonesome."

Anson has volunteered in some capacity most of her life. She credits her parents with instilling in her a sense of civic responsibility.

"We were raised to think that we should be giving something back," Anson said. "It is so rewarding because as you are giving something back, people are giving something to you as well."


Name - Verna Anson

Address - Martinsburg, W.Va.

Date of birth - May 4, 1931

Occupation - Retired physical therapist; full-time volunteer

Most notable achievement - Keeping my faith as the guiding thing in my life. That has influenced everything that I've done in good times and bad times.

Your proudest moment - It was a proud moment for me when I became an American citizen. She immigrated to the U.S. from Canada in 1960 and became a citizen in October 2000.

Who is the person you most admire and why? - Eleanor Roosevelt. She did so much for other people ... She was a brilliant lady. She gave so much of herself to help other people and to improve their position in life."

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Who gave it to you? - My father always used to say to me, "Don't hide your light under a bushel. Everyone has something to share."

What is the next goal you would like to achieve? - I've always wanted to go to Hawaii and I did that in January. My other goal is I want to see Bermuda.

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