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Why volunteer? To 'make the world a better place'

January 06, 2012|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Local resident Michelle Stouffer enjoys giving back to the community. She volunteers for several nonprofits in Washington County.
Submitted photo

Every week, Michelle Stouffer and her little sister spend some quality time together.

Maybe they'll go to a movie or stay at home and bake cookies.

They might make jewelry, play games or plan an afternoon of roller skating. Sometimes, they simply enjoy talking.

It's girl time — a special day that means a lot to both females. And it doesn't matter that they aren't really related. The bond is just as strong.

Stouffer is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County.

Once a week, she picks up her 8-year-old "Little" and spends three hours making a difference in someone's life.

Stouffer, who is originally from Greencastle, Pa., and has lived in Washington County for the past 13 years, said she hadn't planned on becoming a Big Sister. But, she said, a Harley motorcycle brought them together.

"The CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County, Phil Bennett, spoke at a Williamsport Harley Owners Group chapter meeting about a motorcycle raffle and ride fundraiser," Stouffer recalled. "He came to us for assistance in coordinating the ride. But he also spoke about the agency and its purpose."

Following his talk, "I thought, 'What an awesome foundation,'" Stouffer said.

She volunteered to help coordinate the ride but also immediately went to the agency's website to learn more the group. She ended up completing an application to become a Big Sister.

Stouffer said she was matched with a Little Sister.

Their time together ranges from reviewing spelling words to hiking or going to the park, she said.

And while the goal of the program is to provide a rewarding experience for young people, Stouffer said she also is rewarded.

"It's a great feeling to give back to the community," she said "I'm grateful for the opportunity, and I plan on sticking with her for as long as she'll have me."

In addition to being a Big Sister, Stouffer assumed the positions of secretary of the organization's board of directors and chair for Biking Big for Littles in 2011.

But volunteering is nothing new to Stouffer. She participates in the United Way Day of Caring, Adopt a Family, Global Community Day and Meals on Wheels and also collects items and donations for area shelters, schools, the Washington County Humane Society and the USO.

"I feel if someone is able to help those less fortunate, it gives you more purpose in life and can only make the world a better place," she said.

When she isn't volunteering, Stouffer said she works full time at Citicorp, where she has been employed for 19 years.

She also enjoys spending time with "my husband and best friend, Kevin, my one and only daughter Shaina and the light of my life — my grandson Kolten."

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