Archived Story

Volunteer of the week: Roberta Woodruff of Dowagiac

Published 9:24am Thursday, January 23, 2014

Woodruff, 65, of Dowagiac, has volunteered for the Cass County Council on Aging’s Front Street Crossing in Dowagiac since May of 2011. The COA has a mission to provide services and programs to assist individuals to age and live well with dignity and independence.


How did you get involved with Front Street Crossing?

Because I was asked to help on the committee for the grand opening of the building. While we were having a tour of the building I found out they needed a receptionist. I thought I might want to do that, so I interviewed and I was allowed to volunteer. I’ve been in that position (front reception desk) ever since.


What duties do you perform?

I answer the phone and I give tours. I think it is a beautiful facility and we are so fortunate in Dowagiac to have it here. I am always anxious to show it off or give a tour to someone new in the building that may not have seen it yet or may not have known we are here.

Anything that I’m asked to do I do it — if there’s computer work or anything else. I volunteer on Fridays. I got to aerobics there three days a week and so usually after I do aerobics I volunteer there for about five hours. It usually averages 4 to 5 hours because it can vary by the week.


How many tours have you given over the years?

That is hard to say or count how many times I’ve done that. In the beginning I used to do a lot of them. Now it is just everyone and a while. It’s not as frequent now.


Do you volunteer anywhere else?

Yes, at the Sarett Nature Center (in Benton Harbor). The Barn Party is held in September. All of the attendees pay for a catered meal, but some of us bring appetizers and some desserts. I’m one of a number who bring a dessert, and several of us cut the desserts and keep that table filled.

At the October Country Fair at Sarett I sell tickets for fun activities for kids, like games and pony rides and wagon rides for kids and adults. I’ve done these two activities for quite a few years.

Every bird identification class and many bird-related outings that Sarett takes, they like a list of birds seen for their records. I have been the main person to do the listing and have enjoyed doing it ever since I’ve been a member — over 30 years. I also volunteer at a first-grade classroom in Hartford.


What do you enjoy about volunteering?

I hope that when people walk in the door or when I answer the telephone that I will be able to assist in a positive way and answer anybody’s questions or at least to direct them to the person who can help them.

Also, when you are not working, it is a great way to stay connected and stay active in some way — not only for your own benefit, but as a way to help others. It just makes you feel better. It is paying it forward. I’ve been helped out all my life and I think it is time to help other people out.


The COA’s Front Street Crossing is located at 227 S. Front St. Call them at (269) 445-8110 or visit their website at

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