REACH volunteer enjoys meeting, helping diverse groups of people

June 20, 2011|By JANET HEIM |
  • Donna Clevenger, 71, of Smithsburg, volunteers at the REACH Day Resource Center
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Tuesday is one of Donna Clevenger’s favorite days of the week.
It’s the day she volunteers at the REACH Day Resource Center, a weekly commitment around which she  schedules everything else.

“I look forward to Tuesdays, I just have to tell you,” said Clevenger, 71.

Clevenger started volunteering at REACH about three years ago, after seeing a plea for volunteers in a newspaper. Her approximately 30-year career as a nurse ended with her retirement in the 1990s, and she was searching for a way to give back to the community.

“I raised three sons and hadn’t given back,” said Clevenger, who lives in Smithsburg.

She also developed a medical issue with her stomach and was looking for something to take her mind off of it.

“I just knew it was time. I didn’t really know where to go, so I started with REACH and I enjoyed it,” Clevenger said.

She greets clients at the front counter, taking down the necessary information and answering questions during her four-hour shift. Clevenger said it’s gratifying to see clients being placed in apartments and getting their lives together.

“I enjoy meeting people, the diversity of the people. I guess by the grace of God, I could be in that position, too,” Clevenger said.

The Day Resource Center at REACH’s office on West Franklin Street in Hagerstown is open year-round, even when the cold-weather shelter is closed for the season.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, showers and laundry facilities are available for the homeless. Crisis assistance and help with housing- and job-related paperwork is offered Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Clevenger said she would consider volunteering more hours, but also helps baby-sit two of her four grandchildren and one of two great-grandchildren.

She is a member of Cumberland Valley Baptist, which used to be called Real Life Community Church, and has inspired church members to donate items that REACH needs.

Clevenger also values the REACH staff members, saying they go out of their way to help their clients.

Donna Duncan grew up in Thurmont, Md., and came to Hagerstown for nursing school at Washington County Hospital. Her future mother-in-law worked in the dietary department of the hospital and introduced Donna to her son, Ernie Clevenger.
“It was one of those — I just knew,” Duncan said.

Her gut feeling was right. She and Ernie just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Clevenger plans to continue helping at REACH and encourages others to do so.

“I hope that I help to speak for REACH, to encourage others to volunteer,” Clevenger said. “There is a lot to be done. I would just hope they wouldn’t give it a second thought. The people are grand — the clients and personnel.”

For more information about volunteering at REACH, call 301-733-2371.

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