Work rewarding for United Way volunteer

August 22, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT |
  • Deana Cordell is a longtime volunteer at the United Way of Washington County
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — In a few months, Deana Cordell will be making a trip to North Carolina.

There's no vacation or luxury beach house involved. Instead, she and her husband, Rick, will be working in a processing center preparing shoe boxes for shipment overseas.

Cordell, a Smithsburg native who now lives in Greencastle, Pa., is a yearlong volunteer with Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse. A member of OCC's South Central Pennsylvania group, she gives of her time freely, both as a hands-on volunteer and a member of the media relations team.

But helping others doesn't stop with one organization.

Cordell is a board member with the Washington County Community Action Council and a volunteer with Macedonia United Brethren Church, where she assisted with this year's Vacation Bible School.

One volunteer job, however, that especially reaches a wide range of people is with United Way of Washington County.

For about 10 years, Cordell has headed the United Way campaign at Columbia Gas, where she has worked for 24 years. She is Columbia's operations coordinator.

"Our marketing department once ran the campaign," she said. "But in 2001, the department was relocated and the United Way duties were passed on to me."

Her dedication didn't go unnoticed by United Way, who, a few years ago, invited her to serve on their Day of Caring Coordinating Committee.

Day of Caring is an annual event that mobilizes hundreds of volunteers to work on a variety of service projects throughout Washington County.

"The committee helps plan all aspects of Day of Caring," Cordell said. "We make up smaller committees to accomplish this. I volunteered to help with the contractor committee."

Cordell said she receives job applications and makes up a work packet with property owner information, maps and driving directions.

"In the past, I've called and set up appointments for us to go and look at the jobs and evaluate the projects. I will then go out with one of the teams to assist them with the evaluation. When we are finished with the packets, they go back to the United Way office with all the information needed for whoever volunteers for that particular job."

Cordell said her volunteer work at United Way is an easy match because of her duties at Columbia Gas.

"My job involves acquiring permits for the work Columbia Gas does in Washington and Franklin counties," she explained. "I process invoices for Hagerstown (and) Greencastle. I create (and) sometimes execute and maintain the plant department's paperwork. I maintain the operating maps, critical valve books, emergency manuals and service line orders. And I assist contract locators when they need help and create job orders for problem locators."

But despite her many employment responsibilities, Cordell finds time to devote to United Way.

"I'm very lucky that Columbia Gas allows me to do some of this during work hours," she said. "Columbia also allows a team to participate in the Day of Caring, which, of course, takes place during our normal work hours."

Cordell said the company is very supportive of United Way and encourages volunteerism through a Minutes of Giving program.

"If we give 15 minutes of our pay a week to United Way or one of their agencies, we will get a day off the following year," she said. "I usually have 100 percent participation in giving to the United Way from my fellow employees and about half of them give enough to qualify for the Minutes of Giving program."

While her volunteer efforts can be time consuming, Cordell said it's worth it.

"The work is rewarding when you see how appreciative the recipients are," she said. "For my team, I try to pick jobs that require a back hoe or dump truck, something that would normally be too much for individuals to pay for. Also, when I make calls to set up the appointments, you would think I just told them they won the lottery. People are so happy and thankful that they were picked and that someone cares to help them. It really makes you feel good."

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