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A shout-out to the volunteers in Millbury

By  Amy Palumbo-LeClaire

Volunteering time to help others is not only a common ethical practice; it’s also medically sound.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, the health benefits for volunteering one’s time are substantial. On a mission to measure its precise benefits, researchers over the past two decades have found that “in addition to the positive feelings known as a helper’s high, increased trust in others and increased social and political participation, those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than non-volunteers.”

The Town of Millbury, spanning 16 square miles, and stocking a population of 13,261, offers a wide breadth of service opportunities. Moreover, they’re looking for you—a high school student, a middle-ager, a retiree, a senior citizen, or even an impassioned dog owner, to roll up your sleeves and help out the community.  

Given so many choices - where does one begin?

“What did you do in another lifetime?” Judy O’Connor, Millbury Senior Center Director, asks of you. “Think about what interests you and we have you covered. We do Meals on Wheels, nutrition activities, kitchen duties, paired reading for school-age children, office work, newsletter stuffing, answering phones, escorts for the elderly, food pantry work, and snow shoveling (typically for teens). I have a band of one-hundred-three merry men and women volunteering.  I am very proud of my staff. When it comes to volunteer service, we have just about everything.”

If you have an interest in one of Judy’s numerous volunteering opportunities, give her a call at 508-865-9154 (CORI check required). “The seniors love seeing small children and pets so feel free to bring them,” O’Connor added. “It’s a camaraderie here. They are not in the house complaining about illnesses.  They are bonding and forming friendships.”

Also responsible for forming friendships, at least amongst local readers, is Elizabeth Valero, Director of “Everything” at the Millbury Town Library. She began her library career as a Children’s Librarian and calls herself the “Jack of all trades, Master of nothing.” Her volunteering opportunities include shelf reading (organizing books by author-name), helping out with craft activities and - for the “clean-freak” - dusting and vacuuming the library! Interested volunteers may call Valero at 508-865-1181.

Perhaps library work does not move you, but you’d still like to volunteer your time in another way. Jayne Davolio, Millbury Town Clerk, encourages young people to get involved in the community. “I want the public to keep an open mind and get involved.  Registered voters should get involved and try out a committee. There have been people who have been on for years and years but we need young minds, also, to come up and say – this is the way things have changed.  Here are some new ideas. The committees often represent older folks who are retiring but youths seem to have a way of bringing the two worlds together. For example, when it comes to computer programs, older people can learn what young people have to go through, while the young learn from the old.” 

Visit www.millbury-ma.org for a full listing of board and commission positions, some of which include the Asa Waters Task Force, Recycling Education Committee, Cemetery Commission, Council on Aging, Cultural Council, Bicentennial Committee Butler Farm, and numerous others. The town is also seeking to fill a Department Manager (paid) position. 

When it comes to service, perhaps no one has been more of an inspiration than Mary Krumsiek – Town Selectman for Millbury (2nd term) who admits that volunteering has been in her blood since childhood. In fact, her father, former Sutton Lieutenant Clarence Alger, didn’t give his kids a choice in the matter. “My father instilled in our heads that community service is the most important thing you can can do.” Along with managing the Sutton Center Store, Krumsiek mows the lawn for the Butler Farm Dog Park, drives for Meals on Wheels on Wednesdays, and serves at just about every Chicken Barbeque she can get her gloved hands on. “The word ‘no’ doesn’t exist in my vocabulary,” she admitted. “I just can’t say no to people.” Krumsiek, incidentally, hasn’t forgotten her teenage years when others reciprocated, and served her needs while she battled throat cancer. “The Town of Sutton fundraised for me. They had a “Mary Alger Day” on Route 146 and rallied for the cause. I’ll never forget what they did for me.”

Humans aren’t the only ones serving in the town of Millbury. “Corporal” Gunnar and his brother Scout – active service dogs whom the locals have come to know and love (Gunnar has a whopping 11,000 Facebook followers -Facebook.com/gunnarscott) have served the needs of owner Amanda Sullivan for respective three- (Gunnar) and two- (Scout) year stretches, following her seventeen foot surgeries. Furthermore, the Alaskan Huskies, task-trained to assist with her disabilities, serve local communities to help fundraise for war veterans while visiting local schools to educate children and adults on what service dogs do and how to properly approach/interact with them (and dogs in general).

Though Gunnar was originally trained to aid Sullivan’s best friend, a U.S. Marine suffering PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), the dog and his brother remained by Sullivan’s side.

“They offer deep pressure therapy, carry medications, work on Stranger Alert, carry crutches and a cast, and turn the lights on and off,” Sullivan said of a pair that rival for her attention like typical year-apart siblings, adding, “while I grocery-shop, they stand correctively in the way of others to prevent a cart from rolling over my foot.”

Sullivan said that she is currently involved in advocacy work with Senator Michael Moore in hopes of passing a bill that will help alleviate the problem of fake service dogs by modeling a Florida state law, which insists upon heftier fines for offenders.  

Her current fund-raising effort involves the sales of tee-shirts and hoodies to benefit war veterans via her non-profit organization titled Live Life Center. Visit Booster.com/gunnarandscout and choose a hoodie or one of five different tee-shirts if you would like to support this cause. Proceeds go directly towards the veteran’s portion of the organization, titled Valiant Outreach.

Follow their Facebook page or visit Gunnar and Scout at the Butler Farm Bark Park - an off-leash dog park intended to serve residents of Millbury and Sutton with licensed, vaccinated, and well-behaved dogs. You can also volunteer your time at the park by contacting Vanessa Kuzmano at 508-944-8988. She is currently seeking a registered voter (and Millbury resident) to serve on her committee to help fundraise and maintain the park’s grounds. You can also email her at [email protected]

Community Service Summary:

  • Senior Center:  508-865-9154 (Judy O’Connor)
  • Town Library:  508-865-1181 (Elizabeth Valero)
  • Butler Farm Dog Park:  508-944-8988 (Vanessa Kuzmano)44 Singletary Road, Millbury [email protected]
    Facebook - ButlerFarmBarkPark

Write to Amy at [email protected]