Have you ever thought what this world would be like if we did not have volunteers? Many organizations, clubs and businesses would not be able to function as efficiently as they do now. We should be grateful for our volunteers at all times, but a special day has been set aside as Volunteer Recognition Day. The week of April 15 - 21 is National Volunteer Week, but next Friday, April 20, is Volunteer Day.
Designated in the 1970s, it is a day to honor those who dedicate themselves to causes and helping others. They are saving lives, providing comfort, assisting people, animals and nature, and making big and small differences in the lives of millions of people all over the world. This is not just an American event – several countries now celebrate Volunteer Week.
Most volunteers prefer to remain in the background, just doing their work, giving back to the communities and not asking for recognition. The dictionary defines ‘volunteer’ as one who offers himself for service of his own free will. Whether you volunteer in a hospital as a pink lady, at a nursing home, working with the Red Cross, building with Habitat for Humanity or as a volunteer fireman, these volunteers and many more are making a tremendous impact on our communities with their service. Getting your children involved in community service when they are very young is the best time to start.
Fairfield County has so many volunteers that it was difficult to choose just one to feature. After much thought, the one lady who kept coming to mind was Shirley Greene of Deer Run Road at Lake Wateree. Greene was born in Blair to parents Magnolia and Henry Means. Henry was in the pulp wood business and Magnolia was a midwife for 30 years. Greene has no idea how many babies her mother delivered during that time; she just knows that it was many. In her later years, her mother became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at Fairfield Memorial Hospital in Winnsboro. Both parents are now deceased. Henry and Magnolia had a total of eight children. Greene had three sisters and four brothers, of which five of the siblings are still living.
Greene attended Little River School in Blair and McCrorey-Liston in Winnsboro. She later attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, where she earned degrees in Economics and a minor in Sociology. Shirley met Jim Greene while they were both in college and they married in 1968 while she was in her junior year. Jim was born in New Jersey and was employed at Naval Air Development Center in Pennsylvania. He is now semi-retired and works from home as a consultant for contractors for technical workers for government contracts, out of Washington, D.C. Shirley was employed at Sears for a time before joining the National Teachers Corp in Philadelphia. While there she prepared degrees for those with no degree in education so they could teach in local inner-city schools.
Shirley and Jim were blessed with two children: a daughter, Shanna Benjamin, who lives in Iowa and a son, James Jr., who lives in Charlotte. Shanna and her husband have a 4-month-old daughter and James and his wife have three little girls, ages 11 years, 6 years and 1 month. Grandma Shirley and Grandpa Jim braved the cold Iowa winter to visit the new baby in November and teased their daughter that they would probably not come at that time of year to see her, but a new grandbaby is a whole different situation.
Shirley taught school for three years at Tanner G. Duckrey School and a year and a half at H.R. Edmonds, both in Pennsylvania. For many years she was a stay-at-home mom in addition to her volunteering. At an early age she was volunteering in political campaigns and community organizing. She taught Sunday school in New Jersey, as did Jim. Shirley was involved in the refurbishing of an old school house in New Jersey and helped raise the money for that project. She was involved in telephone counseling to those in despair and the relicensing for the Catawba River (CWRC) at Lake Wateree. Meals on Wheels was another organization for which she volunteered, the Coalition of Churches in Blair for seven years and a tutoring program at Little River where she taught science and language arts. Jim taught mathematics at the same school. And if that was not enough, six years ago Shirley was appointed by Eddie Branham to the Fairfield County Disabilities and Special Needs Board where she became Chairwoman three years ago.
The Greene family had a two-bedroom cabin at Lake Wateree for five years before they built their lovely hillside home in 2001. The couple loves the relaxing atmosphere of the lake area. In her spare time, Shirley enjoys shopping at auctions, traveling and playing Scrabble. They are planning a trip to Australia in the near future and hope for a trip to Africa some day. This is a very devoted and energetic woman who her husband says, “tires me just watching her.”
The couple attends the Little River Presbyterian Church in Blair. Shirley is family oriented and a good Christian woman who believes that God has truly blessed her family and that the best way she can honor Him is to be a blessing to others. Volunteering is the way she ‘pays it forward.’
By volunteering you will make new friends and find the activities rewarding. Take the opportunity this week to thank a volunteer, get involved in a volunteer activity or donate to a volunteer group.
Many thanks to Shirley Greene and others like her.