Volunteer Appreciation Month: Mary Hamel

Mary Hamel

Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida could not exist without our dedicated team of volunteers. The valuable time and skills given so freely by our supporters make a huge difference for our residents.

This month, we are saying “thank you” to all of you who have helped make an impact! Please take a minute to meet one of our fabulous volunteers, Canadian snowbird Mary Hamel.

Why do you support the Coalition?  I began supporting the Coalition because I totally believe in its mission of empowering people that are in a temporary position of homelessness… I continue because I am impressed with the dedication of the staff and fellow volunteers. Through a common sense of purpose, everyone works together as an extended family, reaching out to each other and the Coalition’s clients.

How often and in what capacity do you volunteer?  I have been a volunteer for the Coalition since November 2011… Currently, I volunteer one day per week in addition to helping out at Christmas and other special events/activities.

What has surprised you most about working with the Coalition?  How easily I have been welcomed into the fold and the amount of enjoyment I derive in collaborating with the staff.

What is your fondest memory of volunteering?  Children hold an especially special place in my heart, so I thoroughly enjoy normalizing holidays and special times for them. Perhaps I am still a kid at heart. While setting up for one particular Christmas, I remember unloading and stacking the boxes of donated gifts and toys while children and their parents were making their way in and out of the building. The glee and excitement in the children’s faces and voices is something that lives in my memory.

What do you wish other people knew about the Coalition?  I would like people to understand that the Coalition is not a place that provides handouts, but rather an organization that has extensive case-managed programs such as job skills training, substance abuse recovery, and transitional housing to help those in need.

If you weren’t volunteering, what would you be doing instead?  I probably would have explored working part-time as a Social Worker or Human Resources Specialist – my professions before retiring.

How would someone describe you?  I like to think that those around me think I care about others and that I am mostly upbeat and positive.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?  Oh my, there are so many things I enjoy doing.  I love spending time with my grandchildren; I get great pleasure from gardening, especially when I see the fruits of my labor; I golf occasionally, mostly because of the exercise and surroundings; I thoroughly enjoy nature and have recently taken up birding; and I explore Florida with my husband on his motorcycle.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?  I am a Canadian snowbird with a home in Seminole County. I have vacationed in Florida for over 35 years and continue to love being here.