Joseph P. Gentile - Gentile helps CASA get tasks done

April 21, 2006|by CANDICE BOSELY

Every Wednesday morning, Joseph P. Gentile picks up the grocery list, heads to the store and starts filling a cart. However, he's not shopping for himself and his dog, but picking up enough food for about 30 people.

A volunteer with CASA - Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused - in Washington County, Gentile said that picking up groceries for the women staying in a Hagerstown shelter is one of the many miscellaneous jobs he undertakes for the organization.

He's moved furniture, hung pictures, helped box up donated Christmas toys, helped inventory and package donated cell phones and assembled a message box for CASA's front lobby, a project that had been languishing.

He planned to embark on a landscaping project in front of CASA's Baltimore Street office, since it's almost bare.

He said he hopes his landscaping will convey a message to the battered women approaching the office for the first time: "From this point on, your life is going to be a little better."


Gentile, 63, started volunteering with CASA in December 2005 after he learned about the organization from his pastor, Duane Jensen of Hancock United Methodist Church.

Gentile had asked his pastor how he might be able to help.

"Since I've lived here, I have seen and encountered battered women," said Gentile, who moved to Berkeley Springs, W.Va., in 1990. "It really inspired me to do something for them more tangible than praying for them."

Although the tasks he does are not exceptionally difficult, they make a difference.

"It doesn't tie them up with the menial tasks," Gentile said. "I do that."

Gentile started to volunteer after his wife died five years ago. Along with helping CASA, he built wooden street signs for his housing development, maintains bird feeders in the area and is a weather observer for the National Weather Service. For that duty, he wakes up near dawn every day of the year to record weather observations, including high and low temperatures, sky conditions and any precipitation.

Gentile retired from the U.S. Navy after serving for more than 28 years.


Name - Joseph P. Gentile

Address - Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Date of birth - Feb. 19, 1943

Occupation - Retired, U.S. Navy

Most notable achievement - I had a very wonderful career during 28 years in the U.S. Navy. During that time I managed to quit smoking and quit drinking.

Your proudest moment - This past March 8, I was recognized at the CASA banquet for my volunteer work.

Who is the person you most admire and why? - My late wife. For 11 years, she fought a losing battle with cancer. She faced her inevitable death with the same grace and good nature with which she lived her life.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Who gave it to you? - Author Charles Swindoll said, and I'm paraphrasing, "Life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent of how you react to it."

(Also), my uncle, who suggested if I had the opportunity, to join the military and visit other countries and see other countries' cultures and other countries' freedoms, or the lack thereof.

As a result of taking his advice, I have become more aware of the opportunities that America has offered me.

What is the next goal you would like to achieve? - To lose 12 more pounds.

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