Feel good at the end of the day: Volunteer - Penn-Mar

Feel good at the end of the day: Volunteer

Posted on April 14, 2022

By Jill Golueke, Penn-Mar Volunteer and Board Member 

Steve & Jill Golueke smiling at the galaThe month of April is dedicated to recognizing the importance of volunteering and honoring the significant contributions volunteers make by generously donating their time and talents to worthy causes.

I am one of those volunteers who does not seek, but certainly appreciates, the recognition.  I salute all of my fellow volunteers who I have had the privilege of serving with in many capacities and at several organizations for the past 22 years.

Some people are passionate about a specific cause and find ways to support them.

Others, like me, are often drawn to a cause by happenstance and intrigued about an organization’s mission.

Back in the 90s, Penn-Mar purchased wine and liquor for their fundraisers from our family business, Cranbrook Liquors in Cockeysville, MD.

I happened to be at a Country Club where they were hosting a golf event when I noticed an illustration of a giraffe on a cork coaster with the Penn-Mar Human Services name on it.

All I said was, “I wonder what this organization does?” Before I knew it, my husband Steve and I were invited to tour their facilities and learn more about Penn-Mar’s mission. 

Talk about a loaded question!

From there a mutual friend on the Penn-Mar Board reached out to me and asked if I could serve on their Gala Committee and once again, before I knew it, I was taking over the chair position from two people who were unable to keep their commitment!

Themed around on-board ship gambling, my first Gala was a far cry from the elegant Black Tie events we associate with Penn-Mar today. I was literally nauseous from stress the entire evening and the disappointing proceeds made me feel even worse. It was not my finest hour. 

But I guess it was fine enough because I was approached to chair the Gala again in 2000. After speaking with my husband, I agreed to the daunting task with the stipulation that it would be an upscale Black Tie affair somewhere in Maryland (where all our contacts were) and feature a formal sit-down dinner.

So off to Maryland we went and through our connections at the Store, we introduced Breakthru Beverage to Penn-Mar, the distributor who has been donating the wine to the Gala for the past 22 years.

I stayed on as event chair for 19 years before training a new volunteer to take over my duties. During my time, the Gala evolved into a Must Attend Social Event. We upped the attendance, attracted first-rate sponsors, featured jaw dropping auction items and literally raised millions of dollars to support Penn-Mar’s mission.

My association with this remarkable organization led me to say “yes” yet again when I was asked to join both Penn-Mar Human Services Board and the Foundation Board of Directors.

I have met so many wonderful people through these opportunities. I would not hesitate to call on any one of them if I were ever in need. And it’s so gratifying to know that my ideas and input as a fellow volunteer are always appreciated and considered.

If you want to feel good at the end of the day, consider volunteering at Penn-Mar or any other deserving organization that speaks to your soul.

Touring Penn-Mar’s facilities opened my eyes to the amazing work the organization and their dedicated Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) were doing every day to support people with disabilities. It was total immersion and a great way to really see the mission in action. 

I always say, “I wish I could do more.” Because there is always more to do for people who deserve our help.

To learn more about Penn-Mar Volunteer opportunities, contact Tina Chan Sweenie, Manager of Volunteer and Donor Engagement, tinachansweenie@penn-mar.org  

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